Movie Review: The Devil Inside (2012)

Directed by William Brent Bell                            Written by William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman                                                           Starring Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Suzan Crowley

Before going to see The Devil Inside, I Googled to see what the critics were saying. They were saying a lot, and it was all bad. However, the preview looked decent for an exorcism movie, and I’m not one to arbitrarily invest in the opinions of others, so I went and saw the darn thing anyway.

Unfortunately, the critics were right. The Devil Inside is a movie that could’ve worked (albeit on a very basic level), but doesn’t, because everyone involved apparently packed up their bat and ball at 5pm and went home despite the film not actually being finished.

Shot in mockumentary style, The Devil Inside opens with a “disclaimer” that the Vatican neither endorsed the film nor assisted in making it. Well, indeed. Neither, I’m sure, did the Queen of England, the Dalai Lama, or Lady Gaga (actually, she might’ve), but who cares? This bizarre attempt at authenticity is followed up with a monosyllabic 911 phone call from Maria Rossi, advising that she’s just killed three people. We see the bloody fruits of Maria’s homicidal labours, and watch as Maria is carted off, to eventually wind up in an asylum in Rome. Flash forward: enter Maria Rossi’s now-adult daughter, Isabella, who travels to Rome to film a documentary about exorcism, specifically about how the one conducted on her mother two decades ago made her get very stabby.

From there, it’s all cliches and moderately effective cheap scares. It’s nothing new, but it’s done well enough for what it is (which is a damning sort of faint praise, really, since I think it’s almost impossible to get the basics of an exorcism movie wrong, as the foundations have been so well laid by all that came before). The film does finally begin to warm up and head towards a climax that almost seems as if it might be worth it…

…then it ends. Right in the middle of a scene. Just…ends. Which renders all that came before completely pointless, and is one of the biggest insults to an audience’s investment that I’ve ever experienced. To make matters worse, for those masochistic enough to sit through the excruciatingly slow-moving silent credits in hope of redemption, a website address is offered, as if to explain the lack of ending for the movie just shown. I visited the website. It’s just a few tacked-on “articles” and miscellanea, along with clips from the movie, and promotional dreck. Not. Good. Enough.

Bearable parts: some admirable twistiness from the film’s contortion double “Pixie Le Knot” (yes, really), and some good work with the colour and tone of the visual footage itself.

Unbearable parts: everything else. There isn’t even any character development or acting prowess for me to desperately clutch at here. If not for the ending, the movie would simply be meh, perhaps even ok, but the contemptuous conclusion (or lack thereof) pushes this into truly infuriating territory.

Wait for the DVD. And then don’t watch it anyway. You will be disappointed.

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This entry was posted in Film Reviews by Felicity Dowker. Bookmark the permalink.

About Felicity Dowker

Melbourne-based writer Felicity Dowker is a multiple finalist and/or winner of various awards for her short stories and reviews, including the Ditmar, Chronos, Aurealis, and Australian Shadows Awards. Around 30 of Felicity’s stories have been published in Australian and international magazines, anthologies, and podcasts, most recently including Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror Volume 2 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene from Ticonderoga Publications, and Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top edited by Ekaterina Sedia from Prime Books. Felicity’s debut short story collection Bread and Circuses was launched by Ticonderoga Publications in June 2012 - find out more at

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