“What’s my character’s motivation?” ~Satan
I really think it’s important for my fans to read my review of The Taking of Deborah Logan (TTODL) first to understand why this movie is so much better, regardless of the fact that TTODL had a better plot and even better actors. Check out that review at the link below.
Basically, this review is going to be one long comparison of the two movies and followed by an explanation of why this one is better. They have so many similar themes, I feel like one might have been copying off the other’s homework. As a mater of fact, if you just change Debora’s name, location, and pretend she’s younger, you could easily have used TTODL as a prequel to this movie. TTODL is about the slow possession of an elderly woman going senile in her winter years (A concept flat out stolen from The Exorcist III). The more Deborah slips away, the more the demon takes over. In The Devil Inside, this has already taken place. A woman named Maria started to exhibit extreme forms of dementia then reportedly murdered several people at her house. It’s revealed latter that the murders took place during a botched exorcism. Specifically, Maria’s exorcism. Her daughter, Isabella, has become the subject of a documentary investigating the case.
So, rather than a mocumentary about the possession of a woman with dementia, it’s a mocumentary about the exorcism of a woman with dementia who’s already been possessed. However, as mentioned before, many of the themes are the same. In both movies, a professional film crew discovers the crossroads between mental illness and demonic possession, and is slowly lead to the discovery that demonic possession is real. Here’s the important difference between TTODL and The Devil Inside… THE FUCKING PROFESSIONAL FILM CREW OF THE DEVIL INSIDE MANAGED TO HOLD THE FUCKING CAMERA STEADY!!!
It’s almost like the fucking actors in this mocumentary portray, oh I don’t know, AN ACTUAL FUCKING PROFESSIONAL FILM CREW!!! Yeah the ‘shaky camera’ was used as a way to provide atmosphere where they clearly didn’t have the budget to provide one, but that’s okay. It’s perfectly acceptable to use the found footage medium to make up for a lack of budget. That’s what you’re supposed to do with it. What isn’t okay is when half of the fucking film is just action shots of the camera guy tripping over his own two feet. But in The Devil Inside, the ‘shaky camera’ is never gratuitous. There’s almost always more than one camera angle being capture, and even when something disturbs the view, it’s temporary. Again, just like a fucking professional film crew.
It’s important to note, this movie is still a shoe stringer, and has the typical low budget issues, but they’re never a distraction from the movie. The acting is good for horror, the plot only has a few small holes in it, all of which can be easily overlooked. I have to admit, it’s silly enough where my wife and I spent most of the movie riffing it, but fans of ‘Shaky Camera’ and possession films as a genre, will likely enjoy it.
So, I guess that means Riffers and Horror Heads only, but it was entertaining.
The female lead, Isabella, seemed a little too eager to accept the idea of demonic possession. This would have likely been okay if the character was portrayed as someone desperate to exonerate her mother, willing to make any attempt to do so. However, she actually portrayed as someone who’s convinced of her mother’s guilt. Isabella is a rational person who seems more betrayed by the conviction of her mother, regardless of the fact that she knew her mother was mentally ill at the time of the murders. The beginning of the movie has her looking for answers and coming to grips with her mother’s mental illness. When she finally discovers her mother was receiving an exorcism, her willingness to accept her mother as possessed seems forced.
You see, most people would look at that situation and assume the church was culpable for the murders, harassing a mentally ill dementia patient, rather than getting her the help she needs. At no point does Isabella try to hold the church responsible for what happened to her mother, and it’s the kind of thing most rational people would do. I feel like that would have been a better catalyst for the rest of the plot as well. She would have come off initially as antagonistic to the church before slowly being forced to accept the reality of demonic possession.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of fully developed backgrounds for the characters. The demon possessing Isabella’s mother turns out to be Satan himself. He has the ability to attack the character’s guilt and use it against them as a weapon. While the inner guilt of each character comes up as a catalyst for the demon killing them, they really don’t get into it. They’re sort of just there. It’s like a door marked “This character had an abortion” that Satan walks through whenever he feels like it. The damn devil jumps from character to character as he sees fit, without actually addressing any of the character’s background. There isn’t even any progression for it. One minute Satan is in a priest, then poof, he’s in Isabella. It’s actually kind of lame. If Satan could just jump into any mortal with ‘guilt,’ why the fuck did he stick with Maria for so long? Why not use her to jump into a priest, then jump from priest to priest, until he’s in the fucking pope? Why even jump into Maria to begin with?!
That brings me to my general problem with possession film. What’s the motivation of a demon to rip it’s way into this world just to torment one individual? The original, The Exorcist, addressed this directly. That movie was an investigation of the alien motivations of Pazuzu. But most possession movies have lost sight of this as a plot device and just boil it down to ‘Evil is as evil does.’ But the platitudes of simpletons is not a basis for a plot and dose a huge disservice to the genre. Understanding the motivations of pure evil is the whole damn point of possession films.
In any case, this movie was entertaining, even if just for riffing, so give it a shot.
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In the Shadow of the Mountain