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The Devil Inside (2012) Review

The Devil Inside ReviewBy Jesse Miller, MoreHorror.com

Synopsis:
In 1989, emergency responders received a 911 call from Maria Rossi confessing to three brutal murders. The courts found her insane – but something else found her first.

Twenty years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade), followed by film-maker Michael (Ionut Grama) who wishes to document her journey, has found that her search for answers had led her to two rogue priests who reveal that her mother is in truth possessed not by one powerful demon but four! Now, it’s up to Isabella to face pure evil and work to overcome its claim on her mother’s soul once and for all.

Sometimes there’s nothing quite like a good, old fashioned Exorcism flick that features all the staples we’ve come to know and love and fear - Contorted bodies, speaking in tongues and the troubled protagonists that have to overcome all the odds.

The Devil Inside has all these usual features, ticking off the cringe-worthy bone-crunching contortion and the eerily sprouted Latin or occasionally the possessed victim that might choose to climb up the wall crazily chirping as they go along.

But while all these usual features are here and counted for, the key ingredients here in The Devil Inside that is absent is atmosphere and suspense – two items that would do wonders for the film’s story and its many set pieces.

That the film’s framing device is the documentary being filmed through Isabella’s discoveries means we’re in shaky-cam territory and that the canvas is opened up for the film-makers to craft up some ingenious frights through their staging of the scenes and its execution but sadly this is a missed opportunity as the film comes off feeling pretty flat throughout, with genuine shocks few and far between.

What’s also disappointing here is the writing, where characters are thinly drawn and don’t develop past their own individual set-ups but what’s worse is that development is hinted at but never properly defined and instead of feeling rewarded to connect the dots to these plot threads, I was left feeling like I didn’t have enough of the dots to fill the gap in the first place.

I feel there’s a line between writing in a way which rewards your audience in filling in the gaps in the mystery and there’s another way in which you’ve left too big a gap that it could come off feeling problematic and this is the very problem with a few plot threads here in The Devil Inside.

Despite some weak writing, the cast here are all turn in some fine performances, with Suzan Crowley as Maria Rossi being suitably creepy – I just dare you to keep a gaze on her unsettling, wide eyes when she’s on screen – and Evan Helmuth is quite effective as Father David Keane and does a great job in expressing his character’s emotions, especially when the going gets tough.

Fernanda Andrade brings Isabella to life and injects her with some strength and courage but also believably conveys the struggles and terrors this young woman has lived with, while Bonnie Morgan as a possessed victim Rosa has a spectacular moment in one of the film’s more frightening moments.

What’s a little worse is that the film ends in an abrupt, unsatisfying anti-climax that lost its impact on me because by that point, I was disheartened by the character development and the lack of suspense and even scares.

Becoming even more of a slap in the face, just seconds after the film ends, it then decides to link to a website so that audiences may follow more of the story, when easily it could’ve added 20 minutes more to the 87 minute running time and come up with a proper ending or even epilogue – now, that’s just laziness, right there.

For all it’s attempted shocks and twist and turns in the story, "The Devil Inside" feels rather mediocre and its attempts to create something fresh, startling and original here don’t quite follow through, instead coming off mostly bland and a little silly at times and while it never becomes a bore to watch, it’s execution leaves something to be desired.

As far as exorcism films go, you could find something much better.

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