Grae's Rating:


God save us from this movie.

The Devil Inside is the movie equivalent of seeing a complete double rainbow arching across the sky, and while you're looking at it, someone steals your wallet. Was it worth looking at, now that you have to call all your credit card companies? Not really. It uses some tired tactics like found-footage and exorcism to lure in anyone needing to startle themselves into the new year--but at least the scary stuff delivered.

Usually I have no problem adhering to whatever logic the director sets up in a movie, but on rare occasion, even I can't help making a face like something nasty-smelling just radiated off hot pavement in the summer. That happened about four solid times in this movie, and gauging by the audience's laughter, I wasn't alone. Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) is going through her "what does it all mean" phase, and since digital cameras are a dime a dozen, she decides to make a documentary. But there is something that sets her apart from the pack--years ago her mother Maria (Suzan Crowley) killed three people during what Isabella thought was a Bible study meeting. When the court found Maria not guilty by reason of insanity, they (weirdly) shipped her off to a mental institution in Rome. Isabella's father reveals to her that her mother's non-Vatican-sanctioned exorcism caused the deaths, and died three days after telling her this (because demons are like Santa; they know if you've been naughty, nice, or have a big mouth). This sends Isabella into a tailspin of journalistic proportions, so she heads to Rome with a camera and permission to visit her institutionalized mother and the Vatican in the hopes of finishing what those dead people couldn't.

This shaky foundation is only made worse by constantly questionable plot points. In the Vatican, she meets two priests performing vigilante exorcisms. Even though ex-communication is the punishment for their actions, they allow the camera to record everything they do with no hesitation, and they even invite Isabella to sit in on their effort to rid a super-possessed girl of her demons. It gets worse: Roman police look suspiciously like the grip and electric department in sweatshirts and jeans, sitting idly by, unshaken by the screaming they hear. Hospitals allow guys dressed as priests to examine their patients in locked rooms. Phone calls are made to mysterious people just so we can hear a main character utter an important key word. For some reason, the camera films a baptism that has nothing to do with anything, and don't even get me started on how much they cheated on the ending. All of this gobbledygook exists just to squeeze out a plot point, not because it makes sense. If the film had been done in a traditional narrative style, a lot of these problems might have been less visible and allowed more room for suspension of disbelief.

However, one mustn't forget why people go see these movies in the first place. We want to see people talking in funny voices, contorting into impossible positions, and using religious items in a way God probably didn't intend. There's plenty of that here, and it's adequately creepy and shocking. This is how the trailer fooled me into thinking this movie would be fun. And although the filmmaker's attempts to discuss the politics of possession are interesting, it's mostly lost among his head-scratchingly strange approach to the story. Even though it's just a marketing ploy, it turns out that not endorsing this film was the best decision the Vatican ever made since the Popemobile.


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