William Brent Bell’s “The Devil Inside” had a terrific opening weekend and then, due to some mixed reviews, and an odd bandwagon of anger over a misunderstood ending it seemed to get an undeserved bad rap. This is a good film. It concerns a triple murder caused by Maria Rossi, an amazing performance by Suzan Crowley, who were performing an exorcism on her. She is sent to Rome and a secure hospital near the Vatican. Twenty years later her daughter, Isabella, Fernanda Andrade, is producing a documentary about her mother and possible possession.
Along with a cameraman and two young priests she goes looking for answers.
It is a found footage film, a genre which is also getting a bad rap, and it works. Found footage as a genre works. As Hollywood is trying to go larger and employing 3D tricks to get the audience to become active participants. Found footage does the same in a more intimate manner because with the advent of cell phones we have all become videographers. Coupled with the rise in popularity of documentaries, it is a form audiences are very comfortable with and creates the illusion that this is real. Even without Vatican endorsement.
The underlying theme is that the powers that be in Rome, don’t seem to care that much anymore about those possessed. On one hand they are training more exorcists and on the other they are ignoring those in need.
Anyone following the news in Rome about the Holy See’s bank, with all of its salacious corruption or the sexual abuse trial in Philadelphia can find metaphor in this film. As the two young priests become renegade exorcists, they are aware that their careers are at stake because the church seems to do little to stop evil and more to stop the good. Ask the nuns who belong to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
All of which could be why I have a huge soft spot in my heart for this film.
As for the ending, I’m hard pressed to find any controversy in it. The devil won. Just like the cat walking away at the end of Gregory Hoblit’s “The Fallen.” Minus the narrator explaining it. Or more to the point, the creepy and strange ending of another found footage horror film, Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s “REC.” Abrupt, Catholic and unexplained. Or the similarly abrupt ending of Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim.” Films should not always be tied in a pretty bow at the end. Life certainly isn’t. It should be noted that I was a huge fan of the final episode of “The Sopranos.” I tend to like films this way.
The entire cast is solid, especially the contortionists. Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth are convincing as the passionate and conflicted priests and Ionut Grama rounds out eh cast nicely as the videographer.
Ignore the bad reviews. Ignore this review. Watch it without expectation and you may be pleasantly surprised.