Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Language and some Bloody Images
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Written by: Lindsay Devlin
Starring: Zach Gilford, Allison Miller, Sam Anderson, Aimee Carrero, Vanessa Ray
It was announced shortly after the release of V/H/S, that filmmaking team Radio Silence had been hired to helm a big budget found footage film by Fox. Radio Silence are behind the best and final segment in that 2012 horror anthology, so I was more than a little excited to see what they would come up with for their foray into bigger budgeted studio territory. Turns out that the movie is more a kin to the awful THE DEVIL INSIDE with nods to THE OMEN and ROSEMARY’S BABY. DEVIL’S DUE is tame in the scare department and painfully dull. At no point, did the film ever break the nagging notion that you’ve seen this all before and executed far better in plenty of other horror flicks. Found footage (despite some promising films here and there) feels like it’s truly standing on its last legs and that they’re beginning to wobble. This is a mere exercise in going through the motions hitting every familiar note in this sub-genre along the way.
Zach and Samantha are a recent married couple documenting their honeymoon adventures. After a lost night in Dominican Republic, Sam becomes unexpectedly pregnant and life appears to be going well in spite of the surprise baby on board. Then weird things start happening. Mysterious people appear to be stalking the couple and Sam is acting unusual. Needless to say that the unborn baby inside her is causing all of this mayhem and it may indeed be the birth of antichrist about to be unleashed on the Earth. Things play out in the typical fashion one might expect from a found footage take on ROSEMARY’S BABY.
DEVIL’S DUE is competently shot. I will give it that. As much as the found footage technique is a detriment to the story being told here, Radio Silence does manage to capture a few scenes that are a little creative in how they’re being shot. This being said, that’s the one good thing I can say about this latest in a long line of lame-ass cash-grabs in this subgenre. DEVIL’S DUE never once maintains a level of faux-reality that is so critical for a found footage movie to work. I’m not saying that I expected a movie revolving around a devil baby to be the pinnacle of convincing entertainment, but the characters need to feel natural and the scenes can’t come off as staged in a found footage movie (especially a horror film) to receive the intended reaction. I was never scared at any point during DEVIL’S DUE. In fact, it’s a rather tedious stretch to make it to the conclusion that’s been seen plenty of times before.
The viewer is forced to dip into some massive plot holes to make any sense of DEVIL’S DUE. The mere handheld style itself is contrived. Footage keeps being retrieved from different places and then consequently lost when it’s convenient for a character to lose documented evidence pertaining to the supernatural developments he’s been experiencing with his unhinged wife. Yet, the question remains of who is assembling all the footage we’re watching together? Did the satanic cult decide to make a documentary and release it onto 2,000 screens? Did someone assemble all of this for a late night viewing with their fellow cult members as they munch on bags of popcorn? It may seem like overly nitpicking, but it’s a viable argument that is repeated over and over again.
With an undeniably bigger budget than their segment in V/H/S, it’s a bit sad to see that the effects haven’t improved over their first horror project. There are more than a couple of moments when it appeared like the very same effects from “10/31/98” in DEVIL’S DUE. From levitating people to objects flying all around the ever-filming camera. This brings another major concern of who the hell would keep the camera running during all of this? That point can be brought to nearly every found footage movie imaginable, but the protagonist pointlessly keeps filming during points (especially in the finale) where he’s taking a beating and there’s no earthly reason to document what’s going on. The final scene also gives a nice middle finger to send out the film that clearly didn’t put much effort or originality in attempting to be remotely scary or entertaining.
DEVIL’S DUE is a tired retread of past horror movies and signifies a close-to-final nail in the coffin for big studio handheld horror (though I am holding out hope for AS ABOVE, SO BELOW). Everything here is familiar and poorly executed (save for some slightly intriguing camera angles of shooting the found footage format). Worst of all, none of it is scary in the slightest. I’d say it’s a toss-up between which one is worse in DEVIL’S DUE versus another lame supernatural found footage film that was released in the same month (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES, which was so bad I couldn’t even muster up the effort to review it after I had watched it). This is awful on nearly every single level and completely fails as a horror film. One could blame the studio (which is probably a more realistic direction to point the finger in) or blame Radio Silence. If you want to see a cool horror film from these guys, then just watch their short in V/H/S. It’s last one in that film, has some imagination thrown into it, and it’s frightening to boot. Avoid DEVIL’S DUE at all costs!