I never wanted to be Movie Review Guy. Burned Retinas is mostly for cartoons and TV related. I feel I lack the certain knowledge of films and what I like about them to provide anything more insightful than simply complaining that something is bad or good in a bitchy tone. But then I watch a movie like this that sends me into a nuclear tirade, because not only does it do nothing good, it does nothing right, in a style that pretty much writes itself!!
First off, its long past due to retire this genre, and if 2014 wasn’t the calendar year to prove this fact, I don’t know how what will. There was the terrible Exists (the laughable Bigfoot movie) and the knee-slapping comedy Into the Storm (the movie that makes Twister look like The Tempest). The money made from these movies may as well fund the VA, or used to save wildlife, because it would should be illegal to make films this bad without the profits going to help some cause. The thought of people pocketing the revenue from these steaming piles and high-fiving, knowing they pulled another one over the audience sickens me more than the thought of a fifth Transformers film. If you’ve run out of reasons for dupes to hold a camera while people are getting murdered right in front of you, then don’t do it. Just make a terrible slasher film instead of beating a dead horse with this found footage schtick that you yourself claim the audience “is too smart to fall for”. THEN DON’T DO IT! Was someone holding your feet to the fire?! At the very least, in The Devil Inside (which I won’t defend in any aspect), the premise is set up that Isabella was making a documentary about exorcism. Trite, but whatever, there is a reason for the camera to be on. Also, there’s a cold opening of an F.B.I. text font, indicating that this “found footage” is being viewed for evidence, or filing. Without knowing who is compiling this material and watching it, you’ve created a major disconnect with the audience and it becomes incredibly distracting when the movie is over. More on that later.
So meet this film’s bland, fun-of-the-mill couple, Zach and Samantha. Their defining trait is that they have little actual chemistry and almost every sentence out of their mouth sounds like poorly scripted dialogue. In Paranormal Activity, I could totally buy Micah Sloat as an annoying douchebag and Katey just barely tolerating his behavior. Katie, particularly, has tremendous facials and her performance really draws you in. Possessed Katie is so amazing and almost believable that while in the theatre for Para 4, the audience all at once gasped when Alex first ran into her in the new house. THAT’S when you know you have a movie monster! Sam in Devil’s Due isn’t even the Rent-A-Center Katie Featherston. Her “possessed” moments are mostly in a sitting position, acting as menacing as an elderly lady after taking Theraflu, and her standard persona is just as lacking. Zach…is a guy. He says words, breathes way too heavily into the camera microphone, and his defining trait is his ability to say his wife’s name roughly 4,197 times in this 88 minute movie. Jesus Christ on crutches, these two are so boring!!
So while celebrating their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, where a cliché Gypsy woman does a palm reading, weakly foreshadowing events that would’ve been avoided if these two clods could avoid getting lost leaving the front door of a party.
“They’ve been waiting for you”, the woman warns. If you can see into the future, verifying whom “they” are would’ve been nice. By the way, as this has something to do with the resurrection of the Anti-Christ, I would’ve expected a way more hysterical reaction from this old woman. She delivers this prophetic omen with all the urgency of a Boston Market employee telling you there will be a 4 minute wait on the turkey breast medallions with brown gravy.
Uneased and disturbed, they ask for a taxi to call it a night and an overenthusiastic taxi driver, for no discernible reason to the characters in the movie, is eager to get them to another party that’s far away from town. Now, maybe it’s because I do this dangerous and unhealthy thing called THINKING, but if I’m visiting a place I have never been to, on top of a Gypsy woman telling me “they’re waiting”, the last thing I would want to do is get further away from the immediate location I barely recognize. Not to mention I am naturally put off by overly happy people to begin with.
Zach and Sam combined have the brain power of a wet sock and ultimately give in to the super cheerful guy that desperately wants them to go to this party, despite only knowing them for a matter of nanoseconds!! Note to party goers; if people act this jazzed around you at a shindig, it’s not because of your company. They probably want your organs! So predictably, they get smashed and pass out, the camera capturing all of this (with editing, by the way.) The camera, which has the best lithium battery on the market, as it has stayed on for hours without a single low battery warning, records a dark ceremony on Samantha, who is place in the center of a thing. A big flash of light can be heard, so I assumed at this point she became impregnated with Kratos. They wake up the next morning with no memory of what happened or how they got to their hotel rooms. Instead of double-checking the still-recording camera for verification, they just brush it off (!!?!?!) and return home to their daily lives. Because that’s how that works. Just brush off losing up to 10 hours of time as some sort of fever dream.
They get back home and a few days later, Sam confirms that she is pregnant despite taking the pill “religiously” (groan). Zach, to my surprise, took this news very well. Being that they looked no older than 24 and still figuring out their lives (Sam is still in college), I thought his reaction would’ve been more mixed.
This is where the film just drags to an ungodly (pun not intended) slow and boring pace and the many cons become . This movie doesn’t eclipse 90 minutes, but Devil’s Due’s weakness is in between the time it takes to get Sam pregnant and the Satanic finale is full of DEAD AIR. Not a goddamn thing happens that is of any kind of substance and it doesn’t feel like it builds toward anything. Very seldom they will call attention to hooded guys eyeing their house. This happens once, and Sam calls attention to it instead of cleverly placing a hooded guy sporadically around the film. That line is only there for the audience (remember that super too-smart-for-this audience?) to be reminded that a cult is following them.
The only thing they tried to do in a subtle manner (and failing) was littering scenes with a blatantly obvious, and not very good cult symbol.
So either this cult worships Mike Tyson and one cultist drew the tattoo very poorly, or the Anti-Christ is a hardcore Quake fan.
It’s not scary, not intriguing, and mostly relies on the same jump scares you’ve seen and been bothered by many times before. Sam’s bad acting is very apparent in scenes where she to act like something otherworldly is happening around her. The actress is just too bubbly in appearance to pretend that she a demon seed in her womb. Several times, she’ll do the thing Katie does where she stands still for a long period of time. She’ll eat raw meat though she’s a vegetarian. I completely forgot that and only picked it up when I watched a second time. She’ll exhibit super strength, but she just isn’t convincing at all and it can be pretty sad to watch. Then the worst thing I have ever seen in a found footage movie happened. We cut to three previously unseen, unmentioned people just wandering around looking at a deer carcass………….They stumble on Sam, eating another deer……then she summons Toby to kill the three of them……I lost it. I was steaming and fuming mad with this and it sinks in that this should not have been a “found footage” movie. The audience isn’t too smart for this concept, you’re too dumb to know how to effectively utilize this concept!! Don’t pin this back on the people and hoping they’re willing to swallow your garbage. People love suspending their disbelief, so as long as what you provide is entertaining! Nobody would go see any movie, since it’s all fake! You stupid, insipid, brain-dead cockbites take your movie and stick it!
Zach continues to act like an ineffective nitwit to pick up on the fact that something is terribly wrong. Only after the father of their church passes out after looking at Sam and suffers a stroke, and the camera picks up on the cab driver from their honeymoon, does he decide to rewatch the footage. This also, is the point where it occurred to me that people had set up cameras in their house. I’m not really certain why, other than to give a reason to put hidden cameras throughout the house. This movie gave up before it started. Now realizing that a cult is behind this, Zach equips his trusty camera to his shirt and sneaks into the cultists’ house, after telling his sister to stay behind and get killed by a fully demonized Samantha. Zach does what every character at this point in one of these movies does and runs from everyone back to his house, only this time the cult is in hot, er, warm…umm, temperate pursuit. Katie, I mean, Sam has carved the Quake symbol into their floor and the ceremony commences. She dies in a pool of her own blood after slicing her stomach open, Zach witnesses the cultists take the newborn, and they leave. The movie cuts back to the police interrogating Zach and states there never was a cult house across his street. Meanwhile in Paris, the same over-excited cab driver is seen picking up more gullible nitwits to take to a party far away from town. I will give this movie just ONE thing. The thought of a bunch of devil worshippers planning a crazy mixer out in the middle of nowhere in any given tourist spot just to land to dimwitted American couples makes me laugh. That’s relying on luck that these people didn’t call Hertz or Enterprise to already have a car provided so they wouldn’t need a cab, partake in hard drinking to the point of shitfaced, or actually like to party in the first place. I just picture a party going on and the cab driver showing up with no passengers in tow. The cultists are all up in arms, but hey, can’t let this Pitbull mixtape go to waste! The party must go on!!
Devil’s Due is the very worst of the found-footage movies I have ever seen. It’s short enough to sit through, but so stupid in its own pretend logic of 4th-walling the audience, yet still leaves baffling questions that need to be answered, otherwise these movies would work in the first place and the reason for someone to hold a camera during terrifying events is something that has to exist!! Simply abolishing those rules and “having fun with found footage” just flat-out doesn’t work! Even Diary of the Dead made a half-hearted attempt to split the difference, even if George A. Romero didn’t fully understand how the found-footage genre works. Devil’s Due is very aware and just wanted to cash in on a dying film style and they should be arrested and beaten with bats for every dollar that exceeded the movie’s budget.