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Wow, 2014 movies went downhill fast: “Devil’s Due”

January 21, 2014

Poster

You know, I’m not a person who can’t appreciate it when a movie decides to be a little unconventional—I mean, hey, the more you deviate from the Hollywood system the better, IMHO (you know, just don’t take it too far—I don’t want to end up watching a movie about a Dutch kid and his pet clump of dirt or something…). Still, I believe that certain movies make a promise to the audience, and when you have a movie called Devil’s Due and it concerns the spawn of Satan, well, I better goddamn well see a baby with a spiked tail. Horns are optional, but the long, spiked tail is a must. Reader, Devil’s Due has no such be-tailed baby. And that’s just one of its many, many flaws.

Okay, so this movie…(sigh), right, let’s get this over with. So, we got this couple, Zach and Samantha (Zach Gilford and Allison Miller) who get married despite Zach’s douchey desire to record seemingly every minute of their lives together for posterity (because I’m sure their kids are going to want to watch mom and dad sorting the mail). On their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic they make the truly Mensa-level decision to agree to go to a party recommended by their skeezy cab driver. Sure. Nothing can go wrong with that plan. The party is in the underground cavern beneath a couple of abandoned buildings in one of the more impoverished parts of town (yep, still some good decision-making, there).

As we see form the footage (unwatched by Zach until late in the film), the party soon turns into a Satanic mass (as parties in Third World countries are wont to do), but our two dunderheaded newlyweds don’t remember a thing. Well, no sooner are they back in the land of the Big PX, than they discover that Samantha is pregnant. Think the Satanic mass has anything to do with that? Yes, yes you do.

Well, the pregnancy is hinky and hinky stuff happens, like Samantha wolfing down raw hamburger in a grocery store, weird noises in the house,  a priest keeling over in the middle of a First Communion  ceremony…hey, know what? Why don’t you just make a list of all the usual scares you get with any given possession movie, you’ll pretty much have the middle third of this movie.

Pretty soon the cabbie and some other creepy dudes show up and begin shadowing Zach and Samantha (and wiring their home with more cameras to add footage to the whole “found footage” concept). Whatever could they be doing? Here, lemme save you the trouble: they’re a cult overseeing the birth of a Satan baby, currently slow-cooking in Samantha’s belly.

Did you guess that? Of course you did, because nothing in this movie is original! The filmmakers– Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (members of the filmmaking collective Radio Silence)—seem to think you build suspense by having things happen that you know damn well are going to happen. With one or two exceptions, nothing that occurs in this movie is even remotely mysterious or original.

Now, I’m not going to rattle the gates and argue that the found-footage genre is dead, and needs to be retired. However, with approximately a zillion of these movies being released every year, filmmakers really need to step up their game. The usual ways to wring terror out of  static, shaky camera view have mostly been done to death, so if filmmakers want to make a successful found footage horror movie they need to start being creative. The Schulmans were pretty successful at this with their oscillating fan sequence in Paranormal Activity 3, but no one else has managed anything comparable.

The other thing they have to understand is that only certain stories can be told this way! To back to the mouth of river, The Blair Witch Project worked because that story could only be told through the fragments of recovered footage. The movie isn’t a straight narrative, rather it’s the visual clues to a mystery that has no answer. Making a straight narrative-driven film with found footage plays to the conventions weaknesses—and this film is a perfect example of that fact. See, this movie has been made before. It was called Rosemary’s Baby, and it’s a horror classic, largely because it filled in the narrative gaps you get with the found footage convention.

And no damn tail! The baby didn’t have a tail! Hell, you could barely see the thing! What a massive rip-off!

Bottom line: this movie sucks. If you want a decent found footage movie, check out V/H/S or its sequel. They’re hit-and-miss, bit at least they get the job done some of the time.

2 comments

  1. Hahahaha, well, I know you’re not satisfied with this kind of found-footage movie.. but I didn’t know why, last night when I watched this, I was scared as hell.. And I couldn’t dare to take a taxi home, hahaha~

    In the other hand, yes, I agree with you that it is very disappointing that the baby isn’t exposed.. nor it was given a chance to show its demonic appearance.. Samantha was really a cursed girl for having such life and I felt sorry for her :-/


  2. Well, I’m always scared when I get in a Jakarta taxi, but it’s usually because the driver doesn’t know where to go. 🙂



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