The Devil Inside (2012)

It’s Against God’s Will, You Know

Today’s movie piqued my interest when it was in theaters, but never nearly enough to make me actually go and buy a ticket.  Even having my friend Tiffany officially request it of me couldn’t drive me to the theaters for it.  But I had no intention of leaving a request unanswered.  Even when I ultimately forgot that she requested it, I remained determined to answer the challenge … y’know, once it came out on DVD and I started to remember that it had been requested and then I confirmed it via Facebook.  Well it was released on DVD at the same time that it arrived at a local RedBox, so I reserved it and here we go.  Here is my review for The Devil Inside, written by William Brent Bell and Matthew Peterman, directed by William Brent Bell and Joaquin Perea, and starring Fernanda Andrade, Suzan Crowley, Ionut Grama, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Bonnie Morgan.

In 1989, Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) kills three people that were trying to perform an exorcism on her.  She was called not guilty on the grounds of insanity and institutionalized, later getting moved to a psychiatric hospital in Rome.  20 years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) starts filming a documentary on the subject of exorcisms with Mike (Ionut Grama) and travels to Rome to find out more about exorcisms and meet with her mother.  When they get to Rome, they attend a class on exorcisms and meet a group of priests with varying opinions on exorcisms.  Two of these priests, Ben (Simon Quarterman) and David (Evan Helmuth), ask Isabella and Mike if they would like to attend an exorcism so that they can get a better understanding of the process.  But the exorcisms these two priests do are unsanctioned by the church.  They do them because they believe the church is too concerned with covering up and protecting their reputation to intervene when they’re needed.  Isabella and Mike also visit Maria in the hospital, finding that she’s carved upside-down crosses into her skin and inside her lip, and she mostly acts like she doesn’t recognize Isabella.  But she also makes a mention of the baby Isabella killed, somehow knowing about the abortion she had.  When Ben views the video of the visit with Maria, he decides they should investigate and see if an exorcism should be performed.  And, as with most times you deal with demons, everything goes great.

This movie is the Rage of films.  Some of you that keep close tabs on my reviews will remember my review of the video game Rage saying that I enjoyed a lot about the game until the end.  And the reason I didn’t like the ending was because it didn’t have one.  Such is the situation with The Devil Inside.  I found myself pretty interested with the movie for the majority of it.  It’s not unlike the ghost movies that I’ve confessed my love for already, but it’s been a while since I watched a really good exorcism movie.  Not that this has really changed because of this movie as it’s okay at best.  There’s some cool creepiness to be had from the exorcism scenes.  And I never really found myself getting bored with the movie because they really didn’t waste a lot of time in the movie.  And I tend to fall for the found footage movies more often than not.  Not that I ever believe what I’m watching actually happened, but since I tend to shut my mind off for most movies and try to just sit back and enjoy, the found footage type of movie tends to get me to feel more immersed in the scene.  And whether the person I’m sitting in the room with is actually being inhabited by demons, or she’s just crazy and thinks she is while simultaneously being able to fire blood out of her cooch (which actually happens in the movie … icky), I’m on edge.  That was about all it got out of me, though.  It never managed to scare, and thankfully didn’t substitute that with cheap startling moments, but was only ever to pull off creepy.    But, even with this, it’s interesting premise, creepiness, and it’s good pacing would have made this movie something I actually might purchase … if they ended it.  It’s hard to spoil an ending that didn’t happen, but just in case ::SPOILER ALERT::  Maria was inhabited by four or more demons, and these demons started spreading the love when an exorcism was attempted on Maria.  First to David, who responded with suicide, and then to Isabella, who responded with a seizure.  In the hospital, she goes ape-shit and stabs a nurse so Ben and Mike take her from the hospital and try to rush her to Ben’s exorcism teacher.  On the way, Mike seems possessed and crashes the car, assumedly killing all three of them.  Then the movie’s over.  This isn’t just an unsatisfying conclusion; it’s the three remaining main characters dying on the way to the conclusion.  Did they run out of money, or did they run out of interest?  Either way, it pissed me off.  I was so confused that I sat through the credits hoping for the real ending, but all I got was a link to a website that annoyingly tried to continue the idea that this found footage was real by linking you to a website where you could be a part of the ongoing investigation.  I determined to go there because of my own ongoing investigation to find the ending of this movie, but the website would not load, further depriving me of any clue in the disappearance of this movie’s ending.  ::END SPOILERS::

For a P.S. on that point, the website finally loaded and it’s just pissing me off.  I’ve talked about how I hate the fact that movie makers in the found footage department apparently think so little of anyone that’s going to see their movie that they try to act like all of this shit really happened, but The Devil Inside takes it a bit further.  Their website seems to be trying to continue to act like all of this shit was real as well, even citing a real 1989 murder where a girl named Maria Rossi killed a random elderly woman.  There’s also a forum on there where it looks like people are actually discussing whether or not this movie was real.  First of all, if you kept your eyes on screen for 10 seconds after the website popped up, you’d see that these people were displayed with two names.  That’s because they were played by someone.  If an actor is portraying something, it’s not real life.  Secondly, the fact that the main character of this movie shares a name with someone that killed people once doesn’t even mean that this movie was based on them.  In this movie, Maria killed three people by herself because she was possessed.  In the story I vaguely skimmed, two kids strangled and stabbed a woman who was walking her dog because they’re scum.  I assumed the scum part.  I had to stop reading the forums on the website because (whether the posts were from real people or not), it made my faith in humanity hit rock bottom.  And since my faith in humanity couldn’t go lower, I had no reason to continue reading.

Some of the performances in this movie impressed me and others didn’t, but none of them were ones that I thought were bad.  I was impressed by Suzan Crowley and Bonnie Morgan for their ability to really seem possessed.  Suzan just seemed completely nuts, but in a really freaky way that had me on edge even when she was acting like a confused older lady.  When the actual crazy comes out, she does that well too.  Bonnie Morgan was good at it too, but even more because she’s apparently double jointed or something and able to do all of that crazy icky stuff like dislocating her shoulder.  Fernanda Andrade didn’t overly impress in her turn at it, but she did a pretty good job acting like a regular girl.  Although, since she probably is, it’s not that impressive.  But she was purdy, so I give her that.  I got annoyed near the beginning of the movie because I started realizing that, unless she popped up again later in the movie (which she doesn’t) then the creepy-looking nun lady with the cataract eyes from the cover of the DVD was just an insignificant character that they happened to walk by as they were chit-chatting.  What’s that all about?  That’s like having my debut performance as Audience Member # 138 on the cover of the Knocked Up DVD.  I mean, I was great in that scene that you may or may not be able to see me in, but I think it made more sense for Seth Rogen to be there.

I would say I liked about 99% of The Devil Inside.  There’s a good amount of creepiness and chills and they never really draw out scenes longer than they should, and the found footage style really helps this type of movie on its goal.  I even like the performances, particularly of the possessed people.  The thing that lowered this movie from “okay” to “disappointing” is the ending, because there wasn’t one.  And, because of that, I don’t know that I’d really recommend this movie.  You can pick it up at a RedBox for a dollar if the rest of the movie as I described it intrigues you, but you’ll at least go in already knowing what’s waiting for you in the end.  The Devil Inside gets “My ass is bleeding” out of “You’ll burn.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

Scratch Any Hero, and You Will Find a Monster Lurking Inside

Continuing onward with the Scorpion King trilogy, but starting with the ones that may lead to my untimely death.  Today’s movie is mainly serving to connect the movie that I was happy to watch (The Scorpion King) with the movie I am required to watch because my friend Eric requested it.  I never saw this movie before today because I tended to make good decisions for my entertainment before I started doing reviews.  I knew it existed, I just didn’t want to see it.  Was I right to assume this, or will I be tremendously surprised by the movie?  We shall see as I review The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, written by Randall McCormick, directed by Russell Mulcahy, and starring Michael Copon, Randy Couture, Karen Shenaz David, Simon Quarterman, Natalie Becker, Tom Wu, and Andreas Wisniewski.

The Black Scorpions are a group of elite Akkadian warriors lead by Sargon (Randy Couture), a powerful warrior and magician.  After the suspicious death of his father, Mathayus (Michael Copon) joins the Black Scorpions for 6 years of training.  Upon his return, he runs afoul of the newly appointed king of Akkad, Sargon, by refusing to kill his old friend Noah.  Sargon kills Noah anyway, and Mathayus goes to find a weapon powerful enough to defeat Sargon, getting joined by his childhood friend, Layla (Karen Shenaz David).  They also meet up with a Greek poet, Ari (Simon Quarterman), who tells them of a weapon called the Sword of Damocles that can accomplish this task.  They go to Greece and face a Minotaur, which causes other prisoners to join them.  They also save the life of a man named Fung (Tom Wu), who follows them simply to make sure the audience does not go long without being annoyed by something.  In the Underworld, they face the goddess Astarte (Natalie Becker), who tries to kill Mathayus and Layla while Ari and Fung find the sword.  They get it and escape.  Astarte goes to her servant, Sargon, and tells him to kill everyone, including Mathayus.  Our group return to Akkad to find that everyone has been lured into the arena to be killed in elaborate fashion.  Fung and Layla stop them from getting killed while Mathayus and Ari go to fight Sargon.  We think Ari betrays Mathayus, having been paid by Sargon, but then Ari double betrays Sargon and helps Mathayus.  Mathayus kills Sargon, Layla says she’s in love with Mathayus, Mathayus loves battle more and leaves.  The end.

This movie kind of sucked out loud.  Take the story and dialogue of The Scorpion King, make it worse and stupider, and remove all signs of the fun that made The Scorpion King work in spite of the writing, and you have this movie.  It was boring and predictable, the fight scenes were not interesting, and the dialogue ranged from mediocre to awful.  The story just starts in Akkad, makes a really long round trip where apparently Akkad is standing relatively still and nothing interesting is happening for us to check back in on, and then just ends ups back in Akkad.  I was so disinterested with the story that my mind kept focusing on what I saw to be a continuity error about Mathayus having a scorpion tattoo that he didn’t have in The Scorpion King or The Mummy movie.  Thankfully, they did answer this question by having him burn it off with a sword that was hot for no reason, so I didn’t have to wonder anymore.  The decision to make Ari betray Mathayus was completely ill-conceived because it happens and then turns him back into a good guy all within the span of about three minutes.  Had we been given an idea that he was a bad guy from the time we met him, we would be more happy to see him turn good at the end.  The poor state of the dialogue is in matching to the story, being a few failed attempts at witty one-liners or just exposition.  The narrator goes on far too long into the movie.  You’re only necessary to give us backstory, we don’t need you to tell us what we’re watching.  And as for the “witty one-liners”, there’s one part where Astarte tells Layla that she’ll rip her face off and Layla says “Good, then I won’t have to look at you.”  Good comeback.  Though to a lesser degree, The Scorpion King suffered some of the same problems, but the fun of the movie and the cool fight scenes elevated it.  This movie decides instead to have uninteresting fights, spread far between, and amp that shit up by using slow-mo to accentuate moves that aren’t that impressive.

As bad as those things are in this movie, the graphics of this movie are much worse.  Not always, the sets are all pretty well done.  The Underworld actually achieved a slim level of creepiness with it’s set pieces, and they all seemed to have been crafted very well.  The Rube Goldberg machine that they set to kill all of the Akkadians was pretty interesting, but only assuming you ignore the fact that it was an over complicated way of killing a group of people that were trapped in an arena surrounded by archers.  It still looked good, though.  Everything else was the problem.  If you make it long enough into this movie to see it, the pinnacle of it’s awfulness is the Minotaur.  It was the worst piece of computer animation I can recall seeing recently.  They seemed at least partially aware of it and tried to mask it with shaky camera, or not use it at all and use a prop head next to the camera, but when I saw that animation again I was just bummed out by how bad it looked.  They must’ve figured out that their computer animators only did this as a hobby, because the scorpion Mathayus fights at the end of the movie is mostly invisible.  Problematically, they then decided that they should just have pots fall over a lot to show that it was still there.  But they end it by having Mathayus throw some oil on it so that he can see it again, and then I was bummed out again.  Also, to show that he’s been imbued with Astarte’s power, a drop of her blood lands on Randy Couture’s head and makes a Scorpion, but it actually just looks more like a bad, tattoo comb-over.  But the thing that still gets me is the thing you can see to the right of this paragraph, and that’s the Sword of Damocles.  Would you look at that thing?!  It’s so nondescript that it seems like a placeholder for the real weapon that they’ll make later.  I could make that thing with some cardboard and spray paint!  Shouldn’t mythical weapons have some cool designs on them and not just be a boring hunk of metal with a shiny, sharp thing coming out of one end?  Looking at it’s making me mad.  I’m switching paragraphs.

The acting was generally pretty bad.  Michael Copon had a good look to him, and performed at least adequately, but it’s a stretch of credulity to try to have me believe this skinny guy is going to one day be The Rock.  Also, he lacked the Rock’s charm and presence, so that’s another negative.  Surprisingly, Randy Couture isn’t a good actor.  It’s not really his fault; the casting people shouldn’t have put him in such a big part of a movie anyway.  He did fine in the background of the Expendables, but he needs a little more practice before headlining.  He did really good in the fight scenes, though.  That’s not really a shocker, I suppose.  Karen David was ignorable for her performance, but she was at least pretty good looking.  Her character, however, was the most irritating thing in this movie for me.  I started thinking about it in the first fight she has with Astarte.  Almost every word out of her mouth up to that point is about how she can fight as good as any man.  She then gets into an unimpressive girl fight with Astarte, lord of the Underworld, which starts with “You’re ugly and old!”, “Well you can’t seduce guys!”, and “Well your weave is false!”  Okay, I added that last one.  Inevitably, she loses and must be rescued by Mathayus.  If you weren’t yet convinced that the writers don’t think much of women, by the end of the movie she seems to have not taken to killing and has decided she would rather be Mathayus’ housewife, but he wants to adventure on.  I guess the writers really put her in her place … which is barefoot and pregnant in front of the stove, if the writers had their way.  As for Natalie Becker, she wasn’t a good female character either.  I’ve seen movies where good looking chicks can be intimidating villainesses, but I didn’t see one today.  She was mainly just hamming it up, but was pretty weak and ineffectual in combat.  She was losing to a housewife until she decided to use magic.  SHE’S SUPPOSED TO BE A GODDESS!!

This movie sucks.  Don’t watch it.  Unfortunately for me, I’m moving on to part 3, and this movie has made me pretty nervous about it.  Weak story, lame dialogue, mediocre performances, and atrocious graphics.  But the sets were nice.  And the ladies were pretty.  I guess that’s all I can say about that.  You COULD stream this right now off of Netflix, but why would you?  The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior gets “Please tear my face off so I won’t have to look at you” out of “I fight for what you’ve corrupted.”

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