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Why “The Devil Inside” is EVERYTHING that is wrong with horror films today…

January 13, 2012

I don’t know about all of you but The Black Saint enjoys a night out at the movies. Whether solo or with some lucky acolytes, I like to take in a movie on the big screen as often as I can. Especially if it’s a horror film. Which is why I was anxious to see something called “The Devil Inside” last weekend. Believe it or not, I am a bit timid when it comes to movies that feature demonic possession as their central conceit. I blame it on “The Exorcist” which I was unfortunate enough to be dragged to way back in 1973 by my dad. I’m still not too sure as to whether he was the coolest dad in existence or one sick dude who never should have had children but that’s another story…

So it was with a combination of trepidation & anticipation that I purchased some tickets (My wife & daughter tagged along. With hopes of watching me cringe in fear) to see “The Devil Inside”. After what I can only refer to as “Eternity”, an eternity in which my wife fell asleep after five minutes of….I walked out of the theater incensed. Absolutely enraged over what a complete piece of garbage this film turned out to be. How dare Paramount Pictures think to foist this sad excuse of a film onto an unsuspecting public? 

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The months of January & February are when Hollywood dumps whatever bad films they have laying about. Mainly because these films have been sitting on a shelf for some years, too awful for release. The studios have no faith in these films whatsoever & just dump them to theaters with the hope that they might make a little money from them on their opening weekend before they arrive at your local Best Buy. I’m not too sure what Paramount was expecting regarding “The Devil Inside” on it’s opening weekend but I’m sure as shit that they weren’t expecting nearly $34 million dollars. That’s right, I said $34 million dollars. On a $1 million dollar investment. WTF??

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Not surprisingly, the film was almost universally panned in every review published (It was not screened for critics beforehand so reviews didn’t really pop up until it’s 2nd day of release) but there were a few positive notices strewn about. You had to look really hard to find them but they were there. Nearly all of them claimed that the film worked as a psychological thriller. This is where my problems with the film begin. “The Devil Inside” was not promoted as a psychological thriller, no sir. It was promoted as a horror film, plain & simple. I wondered what movie these people had watched as it fails as a film in it’s entirety, not just as a horror film but as a psychological thriller as well. It is so completely inept in it’s execution, I daresay that it comes off as a really bad film school project. Some sick joke that somehow skipped whatever quality checks that Paramount may or may not have.

Why do I consider it inept? Let me count the ways…Firstly, it seems to have been shot by a Rhesus monkey holding a camera while riding a see saw. It subscribes to the “Shaky Cam” style of cinematography made popular in 1999 by “The Blair Witch Project” & which has been subsequently dragged to it’s death by countless imitators since. But I have never seen the style abused in so heinous a manner as it is in this film. It is nearly unwatchable just for the way it looks but it actually gets worse. A whole lot worse in fact.

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Secondly, the actors in the film were seemingly plucked right off of a 3rd rate dinner theater production. All of the performances are either hysterically overwrought or amazingly bland. Much like bad mexican food, they’re either way too over spiced or served with nary a crystal of salt to be found. The “Best” performance in the film comes from actress Suzan Crowley (Who is also featured on most of the posters for the film as well) as Maria Rossi, the poor woman who is the initiator of the satanic panic that the film promises but never delivers. But in essence her performance is just a series of senseless whispers & ridiculous screaming at the top of her lungs. Shit…if those are indicators of a demonic possession then there are HUNDREDS of possessed people riding on the NYC subway system right this minute. The other performances aren’t worthy of mention except to say that they’re worse than Ms. Rossi’s.

Thirdly, the script (By director William Brent Bell & Matthew Peterman) is not only extremely stupid but an absolute bore as well. There is one line in particular that stood out to me. At one point a possessed woman shrieks the words “A curse on your ancestors, may they blah, blah, blah”. I’m not too sure if Billy & Matt know this but the word “Ancestor” refers to a long dead entity. Just to be sure I checked it out and the definition I found was as follows: “A person from whom one is descended, especially if more remote than a grandparent; a forebear”. Why would an entity as powerful as a demon not know what an ancestor is I wonder? Why would it condemn those that are long dead? I’m thinking that the dead are just that…dead. And whatever fate may or may not have been awaiting them once they pass on is hardly a threat to the living. To call this a horror film is a complete travesty & an exaggeration of titanic proportion. There is little to nothing even remotely scary to be found herein. What few scenes of “Horror” that exist in the film are featured in the commercials & trailers you might have seen for it. So if you’ve seen either of them, you’ve seen the movie. And to be frank, those scenes aren’t scary either…just loud. As if volume might confuse us & make us believe that something scary is actually going on. It didn’t confuse me, did it confuse any of you?

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My fourth gripe deals with what’s scary & what isn’t. Scenes of contortionists going through the motions aren’t scary & can be seen at whatever circus might be barnstorming through your town. But someone here thought it might be something that we haven’t seen a thousand times before. The addition of some stage blood splashed on one victim’s crotch area is not frightening at all. Offensive? To some, perhaps. But scary? Hell no! But this is the level of filmmaking going on here, with all involved thinking that this isn’t going well so they splashed some blood on some poor sap’s naughty bits. At best this is a pathetic attempt to shock an audience to attention but it fails miserably since half of the audience has fallen asleep by this point & it’s not the least bit scary. It commits the ultimate sin that a horror film can make it’s audience suffer through. It is a complete bore that plays more like what a horror film directed by the duo of Merchant/Ivory might produce. Without all of the nice scenery of course…

Lastly, My biggest gripe is with Paramount pictures and why something as putrid as “The Devil Inside” could be considered as anything more than a DTV release. An extremely bad DTV release at that. A fairly lavish promotional push ensured that most film fans (& ALL horror film fans) would be aware of it’s existence and since that promotion featured the few scenes in which something actually happens I’m pretty sure that Paramount believed it might get it’s initial investment back on it’s opening weekend. But $34 million? The odds of that happening with this film have to had been astronomical. As I stated earlier, it was promoted as a horror film & It isn’t. Some poor, misguided fools (That might be on the Paramount payroll…I’m not sure) call it a psychological thriller but It ain’t that either. So what is it then? An awful film on all technical & artistic levels that even fails to entertain on a laughable level. It’s merely a series of scenes loosely strung together with little to no coherence to them.

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To my eyes, the massive success of the film only ensures that the powers that be in Hollywood can release nearly anything they have laying about & with a little extra money poured into the promotion of these releases, score a tidy profit. A tidy profit that comes out of our wallets. Factor in the cost of snacks & we’re out a a nice piece of change that we immediately regret afterwards. Comedies are supposed to be funny, dramas are supposed to be dramatic & horror films are supposed to be scary. I work hard for what little filthy lucre I have & am extremely upset when it’s wasted on drivel like this. It’s unfair at best & depressing at worse when I think about it. A film that I should’ve paid $1 dollar for from a Redbox machine ended up costing me well over $50 dollars. It’s not even a film technically since it’s actual running time is about 73 minutes or so. An extremely slow credit roll gives it a bump to about 80 minutes or so. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the film doesn’t even have a true ending. It just stops abruptly & we are then presented with a website address to click on afterwards in case we “Want to know more”. Are they kidding? A fucking website? They didn’t even have the decency to give it’s audience some kind of closure despite the money we spent to see it. This is outright theft & not indicative of any kind of filmmaking that I’m aware of. I’ve seen better productions on “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. Which is another reason why I am worried over it’s success. It encapsulates everything that is wrong with the state of theatrically released horror films today & to make matters worse it was massively successful (On it’s opening weekend at least. I am anxiously awaiting next weekends grosses). But whether it’s audience remains steady or vanishes completely, the damage has been done and I believe that every major studio exec is rummaging through their dusty shelves looking for something awful to polish up with a nice little promotional campaign. Something that’ll bring the huddled masses to the box office to spend their money in the hopes that they’re going to see a good movie & leaving the theater completely disillusioned & angry. At least until the next awful film comes around…and we get robbed again. How does the old saying go? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”?

Damn…we are fools.

The Black Saint

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3 comments


  1. Wow. What an incredible lashing. It deserves it. You touched upon a great many points and it is a shame that execs will be pushing junk on us over this piece of shit movie. Thanks for the article. I really enjoyed it. Well written. Keep up the good work.


  2. I really like this post Black Saint… It affirms everything I thought it would be when I first saw the trailer and poked about for insight into the movie. Thanks!!



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