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7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
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10.0 out of 10
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6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Devil Inside

Exorcise In Futility

Rated: R  Some Sexual References, Disturbing Violent Content, Language and Grisly Images.
Release Date: January 6, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 27 min

Director: William Brent Bell
Writers: William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman
Cast: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Suzan Crowley, Bonnie Morgan, Brian Johnson

SYNOPSIS: Years after her mother went on a killing spree during her own exorcism, daughter Isabella  finds her in an institution in Italy. Trying to better understand what may have happened, Isabella takes part in a series of unauthorized exorcisms.

REVIEW: Writer/director William Brent Bell, known for the less than well received 2006 Frankie Muniz and Milo Ventimiglia video game horror flick Stay Alive, returns to the helm with his Stay Alive writing partner Matthew Peterman for the creepy gritty documentary style film The Devil Inside.

Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade, Why Am I Doing This?) finds out from her father before his death that that the three people 
her mother Maria (Susan Crowley, The Draughtsman's Contract) murdered when Isabella was a young girl occurred while an exorcism was being performed on Maria. After the murders and Maria's criminal conviction by reason of insanity, Maria is whisked away to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy by the Catholic Church and diagnosed with various mental illnesses and pumped full of sedatives and anti-psychotics. Isabella travels to Italy with documentary filmmaker Michael (Ionut Grama, The Whistleblower) to discover what condition her mother was in and to better understand what her proclivity is to suffer the same fate. While touring the School of Exorcism, Isabella and Michael sit in on a class where they meet legacy exorcist Father Ben (Simon Quarterman) and medical man Father David (Evan Helmuth, Fever Pitch). Afterward, the pair of clergy collaborate to further Isabella's education beyond the classroom theoretics and help to ascertain whether Isabella's mother was misdiagnosed with mental illness and actually possessed by a demon.

Writer/director William Brent Bell and writing partner Matthew Peterman have done much growing up since their stylized, but ultimately unsuccessful and unsatisfying, horror flick Stay Alive. Utilizing the documentary first-person style of film making popularized by Paranormal Activity 3 and The Last Exorcism, and covering a creepy topic made famous by The Exorcist and, most recently, Sir Anthony Hopkins The Rite, The Devil Inside comes across as engrossing, creepy and chilling. 

What makes The Devil Inside creepy? First off, the performance of TV veteran actress Suzan Crowley sets the stage with her glassy aimless stares and sudden outbursts. With signs of the cross on her arms and on the inside of her lower lip, wild hair and unnatural violent strength, Crowley's Maria Rossi makes it impossible to discern whether she is the the victim of her own mind or of evil outside forces. Secondly, not all of the scares and surprises comes from the obvious sources. Early on in the film, Bell makes sure to start off with some quick jumps to keep the audience off-balance for the rest of the film. Lastly, the exorcism that Father Ben wants Isabella to witness to understand what true demonic possession uses a talented contortionist and some breaking sounds to illicit more more gasps. And not since The Exorcist has the female form during an exorcism caused so much discomfort.

The story picks up its pace once Isabella meets her mother for the first time, although clues to the last half of the story are apparent prior to the mother/daughter meeting - in theory, at least. Similar to Denzel Washington's Fallen, Bell uses a clever concept in the always creepy exorcism horror sub-genre. Only the ending may leave some people shaking their heads.

Clambering for something scary since the ultra light horror season of last fall, the single midnight screenings turned into more at meaning locations. 
There is something about the occult, demons and exorcisms that the movie going public cannot get enough of. Different from monsters like the super sexy vampires and werewolves, demons fall into that intangible classification that comes too close to religious reality to not be scared of.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental


  1. I just wanted to let you know that your website is awesome. I find it really eye-catching and appealing. You write awesome reviews, too! Keep up the amazing work!

  2. I just posted my review as well...you seemed to have liked it more than I did. I was sooo bummed with the ending - but everything else - I'd agree! Keep it up.

  3. The ending has been a hot topic of debate among Twitter fans. I agree that the ending was not as good as the rest of the film, but all complete mock docs have the same problem of hoe to end the film... although 'Paranormal Activity' did it well.