Sunday, January 19, 2014

What To Expect When You're Expecting An Antichrist: A Review Of DEVIL'S DUE (2014)

Devil's Due (2014)

 
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The collective of filmmakers known as Radio Silence first captured my attention with their short film, 10/31/98, which was a segment of the horror anthology, V/H/S. Overall, I didn't care for V/H/S, but I found Radio Silence's segment to be the one part of the movie that I genuinely loved. It was creative, humorous, fun, and it managed to utilize the found footage format perfectly; something that I didn't feel the rest of the segments did.

I wasn't the only one who embraced 10/31/98. Soon after V/H/S was readily available for public consumption, the Internet lit up with praise for Radio Silence. Many - myself included - wondered what was next for the group, but then they kind of went... well... silent.

Flash forward to a couple months ago, when I realized that Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, two members of Radio Silence were actually the directors behind an upcoming found footage horror film called DEVIL'S DUE that I had been seeing trailers for in front of (what seemed like) every film that I saw in the theater. Needless to say, my interest in that movie increased tenfold. Though my initial reaction to the trailers had been one of been-there-done-that-don't-care, I suddenly found myself actually looking forward to the movie.

Well, I've now seen DEVIL'S DUE, and... well... it was slightly underwhelming.

The film follows Samantha (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford), a couple of newlyweds who find themselves expecting a baby not long after their honeymoon. As you may be able to guess from the title of the film, the pregnancy is definitely not a normal one, and as Allison gets closer to her due date, more and more weird things start happening. The couple's dog begins growling at her, she begins displaying erratic behavior and attacking people for the slightest things, she suddenly develops a taste for raw meat (even though she's a devout vegetarian), etc. Oh, yeah, and there's the weird people who seem to be following the couple and watching them... You know the drill.

It's not a new concept by any stretch, but it's one that could work great is executed properly, and while Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett do a serviceable job, they don't manage to bring much more to the table than any other Director(s) For Hire would.

Part of the issue may actually be Lindsay Devlin's script, which really doesn't deviate from your standard pregnancy-horror and antichrist-child tropes. It's not bad - in fact, the dialog between the characters is actually quite believable to a point - but it's certainly nothing special, and when tackling material that feels like we've already seen dozens of times, you really need to bring something new to the table. The story did try for that with its explanation behind the unholy pregnancy, but unfortunately, it kind of drops the ball in the last act of the film, when we suddenly start seeing more about the cult and their monitoring activities. This really took me out of the story.

It also doesn't help that the CGI work in many parts of the film is pretty shoddy. To be fair, it is on par with the effects work in 10/31/98. However, it worked just fine in that film because of the intended analog-recorded look of the film. However, in DEVIL'S DUE, on a giant theater screen, they just don't hold up. In fact, the size and clarity of the image actually makes them stand out that much more; and not in a good way.

Still, the movie does have one positive thing going for it, and that is that Miller and Gilford are pretty great in their roles. They really are likable, and I enjoyed watching them during the first part of the film. Unfortunately, though, as things progress, the film begins focusing less and less on the characters and becomes just another by-the-numbers "Devil Baby" movie punctuated with jump-scare moments that just don't work. In fact, there really is nothing in DEVIL'S DUE that is scary.

Ultimately, DEVIL'S DUE is not a terrible movie; it's just not a good movie, either. I'm still interested to see where the Radio Silence group goes from here, though. Let's just hope that they work with some more original material in the future.


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