“Devil’s Due” Review

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

January has always been the month for the entertainment industry to dump movies that they have very little faith in. Their hope is to make a profit through bored teenagers who are not interested in the Oscar buzz. In “Devil’s Due,” directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett tried to remake Roman Polanski’s horror classic, “Rosemary’s Baby.” However, even with two directors, there is no creativity present. It feels less like a remake and more like a constant wringing of the same Antichrist gimmick that has been exhausted since the last five “Paranormal Activity” films.

Zach Gilford and Allison Miller are cast as newlyweds Zach and Samantha McCall. When they go on their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic, they discover they have lost their memories of the night they agreed to go an underground party with their cab driver. When Samantha discovers that she is pregnant, they both become thrilled over their future family, until Zach starts to see a change in Samantha’s behavior and appearance and realizes that there is something else at work.

While the use of the home video camera point of view is annoying and unoriginal, it can still be done smoothly. In “Devil’s Due,” it is the exact opposite of smooth. While watching a horror film, I want to cover my eyes from jump scares, not to prevent myself from getting nauseous. To keep the suspense intact, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett constantly switch the angles to keep the next scare unexpected. However, those scares never come. The audience switches from the kitchen, to the living room, to the bedroom and through the rest of the house, expecting some sort of event but just ending up bored by the time anything happens.

Instead of trying to create something new, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillet try too hard to make the same tactics scary to no avail. But what’s even more annoying about the use of found footage is the red herring surrounding it. For instance, the movie opens with Zach being interrogated in a police station about the situation he’s in, and then switches to the start of the footage that preludes the demonic possession. However, halfway through the film, it’s noted that all of that footage was mysteriously stolen from his office. So, how exactly did someone come up with this “documentary?”

What’s even more irksome than red herrings is the constant build-up that takes two-thirds of the movie. First, there is Samantha’s unknown bruising, the nosebleeds, the breaking of all the windows in a car after almost being hit, and the occasional craving for raw beef in the grocery store and venison in the park. Are these pregnancy hormones or a demonic possession? No one seems to know until about the last 15 minutes. Even then, the suspense is non-existent. Even people who hate horror movies can predict Samantha throwing people with demonic strength and her destruction of a household with just a death stare.  After 10 minutes of constant screaming and finding random Satanists like a game of “Where’s Waldo,” it ends with an easy cop-out for a sequel and a horribly placed upbeat song in the credits. What happened to this “horror” film that I was supposed to be watching?

The creative advertising was more entertaining than the movie itself. The film’s marketing department created a video of them building a fake baby with a demonic face, and leaving him unattended on New York sidewalks so unsuspecting civilians could observe the stroller. When they got close to the stroller, the baby popped out, showing its hideous face and creating a hilarious montage of people’s horrified faces. So, if there is a craving to see some sort of a video about the infant antichrist, watch the marketing video on YouTube. It at least evokes some sort of emotion other than pure boredom.

Overall, this found-footage genre needs to be put away for a while. With the plots getting more unoriginal and the scares getting more predictable, it just becomes a bore and annoying to sit through. However, with a film like this, even the devil himself deserves more respect.

Rating: 1 star

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