Of course, we've all seen enough horror movies by now to know that although no one ever listens, the crazy townsperson is always right. The camp always has a death curse. The kids are always murderous. Everyone really is doomed. But! Sometimes you are an Annie, likely realizing the error of ignoring Ralph as you die. Though chances are slim, however, sometimes you are an Alice, going through a night of hell but emerging victorious. Today, I am an Alice! Stuff it, old man!
All of this is a really strained metaphor about how I've wanted to see The Devil Inside (2012) for a while now but everyone said it stunk so I put it off but then I finally watched it and GUESS WHAT I liked it.
Mind you, its faults are plenty! What begins as a simple mockumentary about a young woman trying to figure out if her murderous mom is actually possessed or merely wackadoo becomes downright silly as demonic possession is passed around like a goddamned hot potato. The legions of viewers who complain about the ending are right to complain- audiences do love a resolution, be it "good" or "bad". The Devil Inside, however, just stops, leaving you with a decidedly coitus interruptus feeling. The credits roll and you're a bit stunned. You turn blankly from the screen, say "Oh. That was an ending? It's over? It's over." and then you go make some pizza rolls.
I'm also willing to cop to the fact that despite all the warnings of stinkitude, I was bound to enjoy at least some aspects of this movie. After all, I had a possession itch that wasn't scratched by Dorothy Mills, and as I've stated approximately 983547 times on this site, I love possession movies. I gave The Devil Inside all of the benefits of all of the doubts, and it worked. I had a damn good time watching this movie.
What it gets right it really gets right, and what it really gets right is exorcism scenes. As this is purported to be a documentary in the making, the scenes are spare, no-nonsense, and terrifying. They're not overwrought, CGI-laden special effects shows, and they're not so far in the "gross out" camp that you're removed from the action as a viewer. The passages certainly don't come off as silly: they fucking worked for me. Not since The Exorcist have I noticed that my whole body was tensed up because I was downright scared.
Much of my enjoyment of possession films is purely aesthetic- I find the demonic voices and visages frightening, although the possession itself has never affected me one way or the other. What I mean is that it's never been the scary part; I'm not a religious person and "The Devil" and "demons", such as they are, don't get to me in any real way. I'm not afraid of being possessed, you know? The Devil Inside, though, got me thinking about it. Somehow, it conveyed the true horror of what a regular person would endure should she become possessed better than any other movie I've seen dealing with the subject matter. Regan writing "HELP ME" on her stomach from the depths of Hell was a neat and chilling special effect; here, those in the grips of demons have moments of lucidity but ultimately are not in control of themselves physically or otherwise. It struck me as something akin to being at the mercy of a mental illness, or maybe a strong addiction. Perhaps it was just that cinema verite style at work, but it all felt like a possibility, which is beyond the scope of what my brain can handle.
But again, ultimately it all falls apart, which is really too bad. The fact that we leave the realm of possibility and enter standard horror movie territory (only to reach that abrupt "fuck the audience" ending) does the entire film a disservice. Not a big enough disservice for me to say I didn't dig the hell out of it or that I'm not looking forward to watching it again, but big enough so that I see where you Crazy Ralphs are coming from. I'm super glad, though, that I told you to stuff it, old man! I'll never learn!