Wall Climbing Shaking Camera Exorcism Opens on Steriods, Then Fades to Cliché

by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Scene Devil Inside (c) Paramount Pictures
Scene Devil Inside (c) Paramount Pictures

Prepare for a wall climbing, demon shrieking and shaky camera combination of “Paranormal Activity,” “The Exorcist” and a hint of “X Files.” The abruptness of the “found documentary footage” style at one screening turned a loud howling laughing woman into a candidate for screen to viewer demon transference.

 Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) , now about 25, wants to know what happened to her mother after she allegedly killed two priests and a nun performing an exorcism on her when Isabella was in grade school. Director William Bell shows pseudo police footage of the grisly murder scene as a bloody  Maria (Suzan Crowley) Rossi leaves the scene in a police car.

Fast forward to daughter Isabella trekking to Italy with a documentary filmmaker to see her mom who had been transferred from a U.S. mental institution to one in Vatican City.

The unsteady main character’s eyeball perspective has a hit and miss legacy. John Carpenter worked a mixture of it brilliantly and chillingly in the first “Halloween” flick, you know the one with Jamie Lee Curtis.  “Cloverfield’s friends running from a monster and “Paranormal Activity” brought the false docu-reality foundation into a movie sub-category of its own.

“Devil Inside” fulfills the satanic priest versus demon duel sans green upchucking for nearly 80% of the production. Aside from the beyond permissive carrying a camera into strictly private venues (a shot from inside a psychiatric hospital revealing patients outside in a recreation area), you can forgive Isabella’s motivation for allowing filmed documentation of her first encounter with her long time institutionalized mother.

Better crafted than the often painfully slow “Paranormal” or “Blair Witch” franchises, except for scenes in the hospital or during an exorcism, multiple steadicam visuals permit the jumpy imagery to punctuate the tight, claustrophobic range for visitations and in-vehicle narration and/or reactions.

Foreshadowing a multiple demonic possession  (spoiler warning… stop here!) , the cursing and contorting  possessions score one for holy water and a one messy  supernatural cliché.

I can’t levitate my thumb all the way on this one nor does the thumb sink into a devilish pit. Let’s say the scary hocus pocus in and out of focus injects steroids into the assessment, but  diminishes as the production winds down.


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