Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It Came From The Cineplex: Devil's Due

Devil's Due was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (believe it or not, it took two people to direct this thing) and was written by Lindsay Devlin.

Oy gevalt, not another "found footage" movie. That makes two of them in theaters right now, along with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Apparently January is Found Footage Month, all month long!

Regular readers of my blog know that I am not a fan of the found footage genre. Why? Because such films typically look amateurish, the "acting" is generally atrocious and the director has to bend over backwards to come up with logical reasons why the characters would be filming the goings-on instead of running for their lives like any sane person would.

But these types of films cost next to nothing, so even a flop guarantees the studio will make a profit, so... they're never likely to go away.


The Plot:
Zach and Samantha are newlyweds who travel to the Dominican Republic on their honeymoon. While there, they become lost and accept a ride from a seemingly innocent cab driver, who takes them to a secret dance club. They pass out and Sam is apparently raped by the Devil (or at least a fiery special effect). They wake up the next morning in their hotel room, unsure of how they got there, but chalk it up to their hangovers.

Several weeks later Sam discovers she's pregnant, despite the fact that she was on the Pill. She begins experiencing unusual symptoms throughout her pregnancy, like nosebleeds, rashes, blackouts and unexpected bouts of rate and super-strength.

Sam's symptoms escalate and Zach discovers the cab driver is part of a cult that's spying on them. It all ends with a charming scene in which Sam cuts the demon baby from her womb and Zach is charged with her murder. The End.

• I really have nothing to say about the actual plot. It's a pretty standard "Supernatural Pregnancy" film, hitting all the same beats covered in many, many similar films. It's an ersatz found footage Rosemary's Baby for the Millennial Generation.

• Most filmmakers tend to reveal their plot gradually, so as to slowly ratchet up the tension and keep the audience's interest. Not so here. In the very first frame our two directors put up a caption supposedly containing a biblical verse about the antichrist or some such nonsense. 

Then the first actual footage we see is of Zach in a police interrogation room, being questioned about Sam's murder. We're not even sixty seconds in and we know his wife was carrying the devil's baby and things didn't end well.

So why even bother watching the rest of the film? Might as well gather your belongings, put on your coat and leave the theater.

• OK, the whole "found footage" genre is based on the idea that the footage we're watching was found, right? Someone supposedly found a camera containing this material and turned it into a documentary of sorts.

That's how films like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and many others have always worked. 

Not so here. In this one we're privy to all kinds of footage we shouldn't possibly be able to see. We see Zach and Sam's wedding, their honeymoon and the early months of Sam's pregnancy. But when Zach becomes suspicious, the devil cult steals all his footage in order to cover their tracks. So exactly how could the footage have been found? How are we able to see it?

Lest you think perhaps someone eventually found the footage so we could see it, I'll remind you that the film is bracketed by scenes of Zach being questioned about his wife's murder. If the other footage still existed, the police would have it and wouldn't be accusing Zach.

This film can't even be bothered to play by the rules of its own genre here. It's a cheat, pure and simple. Realistically the only parts of the film we should see are the grocery store security cam footage and the scenes in the police station, which would have made it a three minute long movie. If only.

• Speaking of the stolen footage, it seems like the directors gave up trying to think of good reasons why Zach would be so diligently filming everything and just had the devil cult secretly hide a dozen cameras inside the couple's home so we could then get a good look at the action. Another cheat!

• A week or so before the film's premiere, the filmmakers staged a publicity prank involving an animatronic demon baby on the streets of New York.

They set up a seemingly abandoned baby crib and when concerned passersby approached it, the animatronic infant would rise and up shriek, causing much screaming and soiling of garments.

Unfortunately the footage of this prank was about a hundred times more entertaining than the film it was promoting.

Seems like false advertising too, since there's nothing remotely like infant this in the actual film. Yes, near the end there's a fleeting shot of a baby with a glowing cranium, but you only see it from the back and it doesn't look anything like the one above.

• The film grossed around $8 million in its opening weekend, which isn't all that impressive, but it only cost $7 million to make, so… be prepared next year for Devil's Due 2: Second Trimester

Another tiresome found footage film that adds nothing to the genre. I give it a C-. Skip it and go rent Rosemary's Baby instead.

1 comment:

  1. I would rather watch 90 minutes of real people crapping their pants getting punked by animatronic demon babies.


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