The words, somber and undeniably true, hit the screen: "The Vatican did not endorse this film nor aid in its completion." No, the Holy See apparently is waiting to back an exorcism movie that's a little less hilariously lame.
"The Devil Inside" joins a long, woozy-camera parade of found-footage scare pictures, among them "The Blair Witch Project," the "Paranormal Activity" films and certain wedding videos that won't go away. Twenty years after killing three meddlesome Catholic exorcists, an American woman possessed (Suzan Crowley) and confined to an asylum in Rome is visited by her grown daughter (Fernanda Andrade, Brazilian-born, with an American dialect that's flatter than the flattest, thinnest pancake). The daughter and a weaselly documentary filmmaker along for the ride want the truth, they want answers and some interesting footage.
The Twitter waves of anticipatory love (some rigged, some legit) crashed onto the jagged rocks of the first public screenings of "The Devil Inside" Thursday night. From the mighty ocean of pre-Thursday tweets:
"so im trynna see that new movie coming out friday 'the devil inside.' Who coming w me? Lol."
"The Devil Inside seems like such a scary movie omg."
"If I ever watch the devil inside me I will probably end up running out of the movie theater #notjoking."
Then came the screening of the movie itself, which ends (oh, quit with your spoiler concerns) with a scene set inside a car, cameras running running running the way they're ALWAYS running in these found-footage jobs, long past any plausibility. The capper, pitting soul-hopping devil against his human playthings, provoked instant, unified derision at the Chicago preview. It was like that all across the country. This film's a uniter, not a divider! One tweet: "Our Austin TX crowd reacted quite uniformly to The Devil Inside's final moments. A rare experience." And from IFC's Matt Singer: "Guessing your audience reacted the exact same way ours in NYC did."
William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman wrote the film. Bell directed it. It runs 87 minutes, and while it's only routinely poor until the last two minutes, those last two minutes prove that in the right circumstances...the power of crap compels you!