Susan Granger’s review of “The Devil Inside” (Paramount Pictures)
This derivative, micro-budget exorcism tale is just the latest in the “found footage” sub-genre of fake documentaries, allegedly “inspired by true events,” that was launched so successfully by “The Blair Witch Project.”
“Between science and religion, between hope and fear…no soul is safe” is the teaser, along with the promise, “The Vatican did not endorse this film nor aid in its completion.”
So after an American woman, Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), calls 911 to confess to committing a triple homicide that took place in Connecticut in 1989, she’s summarily dispatched to Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Rome, primarily because that institution has ties to the Vatican and her three unfortunate victims were two priests and a nun who were attempting to exorcise the demon within her.
Twenty years later, Maria’s daughter, Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade), travels to Italy to find out if her mother is mentally ill or, perhaps, still demonically possessed. Accompanied by a videographer friend, Michael Schaefer (Ionut Grama), Isabella delves into what’s described as the Vatican School of Exorcism. While the Catholic Church is unwilling to assist in this investigation, two rogue clerics – Ben Rawlings (Simon Quarterman) and David Keane( Evan Helmuth) – invite Isabella and Michael to observe their techniques as they cast the devil from a bedeviled young Italian woman (Bonnie Morgan). But when the priests attempt to perform a similar cleansing on Maria, the results are quite different because, according to the rambling religious ruminations, Maria’s multiple demonic possession is unique.
Working from a script that he co-wrote with co-producer Matthew Peterman, director William Brent Bell (“Stay Alive”) conjures up some spooky, perilous scares with horror scenes reminiscent of “The Exorcist,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “The Last Exorcism” and “The Rite.” But Bell makes a fatal error when he abruptly ends the film without supplying a conclusion.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Devil Inside” is a satanic 3. It’s a supernatural stunt – and, judging by its astonishing grosses, it won’t be the last of its kind.