"The Devil Inside" Review 4.5 out of 5 stars – It Even Reminds us of Metallica's "Sanitarium"
Wed, 04 Jan 2012 17:00:50
"Three," utters Maria Rossi at the beginning of The Devil Inside. "I killed them all."
The words stream across the black screen as the transcript of Rossi's 911 call after slaughtering the two priests and nun beset with the task of her exorcism. It's a vulnerably chilling sequence that mounts tension from the jump. It's also the first instance of The Devil Inside's innovation.
Like a slower Metallica classic, most notably "Sanitarium (Welcome Home)" from Master of Puppets, the movie breaks form, while preserving the crucial hallmarks of the genre. Told in documentary-style, The Devil Inside centers on Isabella Rossi—a phenomenal Fernanda Andrade—as she attempts to uncover the truth behind the malevolent acts of her now incarcerated mother Maria an equally fantastic and downright devilish Suzan Crowley.
Isabella recently found out what her mother did when she was a kid, while the audience learns via a series of old '80s news footage and police archive. She's determined to make a documentary with her friend Michael [Ionut Grama] in order to help her mom. Something far more evil transpires as she travels to Italy where Maria has been transferred, and director William Brent Bell does a masterful job creating a chilling 90-minute roller coaster.
Bell incorporates all of the loud bone snaps, screams, and obscenities crucial to our standard cinematic interpretation of demonic possession, but he takes it a step further. Every character in the film has secrets, and truly no soul is clean. In that respect, the possessed Maria reveals some darkness within her daughter as well as the two rogue priests Ben [Simon Quarterman] and David [Evan Helmuth] who join her cause.
It's particularly chilling when after a string of uneasy filth, Maria begins quaintly singing "The itsy bitsy spider" and her daughter, as well as the audience, becomes transfixed. That's the marvel of Crowley's performance she can go from zero to Satan in a flash. The movie is loaded with those moments of subtle evil, especially when the institutionalized Maria pleads with Isabella to "Connect the cuts" on her arms or she sinisterly intones, "I know you little girl."
The documentary never takes away from the film's genuine horror, but rather Isabella's own apprehension, fear, and doubt shine through during the vignettes of her speaking to the camera. Andrade gives a believably intense performance that's buttressed by strong turns from all of her costars. There are also enough visually disturbing moments to satiate the gore hounds, most notably the first exorcism Isabella gets to witness becomes bloody in a rather painful way…Of course, the institution where Maria remains imprisoned could very well be the same one Metallica described in "Sanitarium."
At the end of the day, this is the first must-see film of 2012. Unique, unnerving, and unsettling, The Devil Inside is the ultimate 21st century exorcism film. Nightmares will abound at this exposition of evil in its purest form. You won't sleep without the light on and a cross nearby for a long time to come…One of the best horror flicks this decade.
Will you be seeing The Devil Inside?