Dark Fiction Movie Review: The Devil Inside

I am legally required to tell you that “I was invited to a pre-release screening of The Devil Inside by Paramount”, which is how I’m able to review it before it’s technically released in theaters.

Good thing too, otherwise you might actually have gone to see it.

I am not legally required to tell you that I actually watched the movie as research for the story I’ve been working on about Demons and Demonslayers, called Evil Looks Good.

I feel ethically required to tell you that the movie is a joke, and it actually makes The Blair Witch Project look good.

Review of The Devil Inside

Believe me, before seeing The Devil Inside, you’ll want to get a few spirits into your own body. I recommend Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. One quart should be sufficient.

First of all, for a movie about demonic possession, it’s about as frightening as tepid queso dip. Here’s a hint to producers wanting to make a horror movie: if you feel the need to have something jump out (be it person, car, dog, cat, bird or whatever) to keep the suspense up… guess what? Your writing sucks. Try adding suspense to your story, and you won’t have to rely on stuff-jumping-out-at-you tactics as a crutch for your lame writing.

Also, is there some law that requires indie films to be shot as a “documentary”? Sure it worked great for Trollhunter, but no one fell for that bullshit with The Blair Witch Project, and no one’s falling for it with The Devil Inside. This story would have been much, much scarier if it were scripted, filmed and cut together like a regular horror film, using the exact same resources. Remember, there’s not much difference between a “documentary” and a “mockumentary”.

The heart of the story was not bad, but parts of the story were so bad that they were able to actually detract from the movie and scream “SCRIPTED”. For example, why did the cameraman follow the priest to a baptism which had NOTHING to do with the plot of the movie? Ah, that’s right, otherwise we would have missed an IMPORTANT PLOT POINT. Wow. Good thing the cameraman was there, or the screenplay writer(s) would have had to write that plot info into the script some other way. Who has time for that?

Why did a mom have to move her daughter to the basement of the house before calling the exorcists? Guess her daughter’s bedroom had too much lighting and not enough grungy textures and peeling paint in it for an exorcism. No, I’m not kidding. Moved her demonically-possessed daughter to a bed in middle of the fucking basement. Wow, good thing, because that dingy, poorly-lit basement was much creepier than any kid’s bedroom.

And the ending? The audience laughed out loud. And I heard several people actually say out loud: “Oh no they did-int!” and “Aw, hell no!” and there was even one “That’s it? Really? You gotta be shittin’ me!”   Wish I were kidding. It was the cheapest, “We’re out of time, so let’s wrap this up! Cut! Print! Where’s the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey?” that I’ve ever seen. And the end credits were an exercise (pun intended) in patience, crawling across the screen slower than the credits in Pray For Daylight, and that had to be a challenge.

This Review of The Devil Inside Is Not, I Repeat, NOT Sanctioned By The Catholic Church

So much for the review. The movie sucked. But what I really want to talk about is the marketing genius of the promotional/street team who were on hand to introduce the movie The Devil Inside, because they were far, far more intelligent than the screenplay writers.

Just before the film started, three prim, young people stood up in front of the audience and made an announcement. A clean-cut kid dressed as a priest, wearing a banded collar and flanked by two Polly-pureheart-puritan girls. He produced a notecard, and in a head-down, self-conscious monotone, (soliciting some “louder” and “we can’t hear you” responses from the audience) he read off some gibberish about how he did not condone the film, and he would be available for discussion after the film.

Now these three were even more fake than film itself, if that were possible. He never said he was a priest, but that was obvious. No priests are that young, and they aren’t shy in front of crowds. They introduce themselves by name, and by religious branch, including the location of their place of worship. They know to project their voice. And they don’t read off notecards.

And the Polly Purehearts? They ain’t that pure. I checked.

But, the very idea of having people dressed as religious authority stand up in front of the entire theater audience and tell them that they DID NOT CONDONE your decision to watch the movie? That they did not endorse the movie content?

Sheer marketing genius? Definitely. But I can do better.

Here’s a Million Dollar Idea:

If you want people to remember your movie, you should have “plants” in the audience – members of the street team disguised as regular theater patrons, who scream, puke, and/or pass out at strategic moments during the film. I could have slept through The Devil Inside, but if someone near me barfed or passed out? Now there’s something to blog about!

Remember, you heard it here first. Drop me a thank-you if this idea works out for you.

And don’t waste your time with The Devil Inside. If you want to see a real horror movie, check out The Thing remake instead.

Conrad Zero

Yours Darkly, Conrad Zero