Devil’s Due, 2014.
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.
Starring Alison Miller and Zach Gilford.
After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behaviour in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.
Found footage has reached a new low with the release of the turgidly boring and utterly preposterous Devil’s Due. If there was a shark, Devil’s Due would have jumped it.
The story (or lack thereof) can be summed up quite quickly: a newly wed couple discover they are pregnant only they don’t know that their baby is actually the Anti-Christ. One sentence, seventeen words. Yet somehow this simple story takes an amazing 88-minutes to tell with a good 75 minutes of that being inane banter between the happily married couple who are just as unlikeable as you’d imagine. What’s even more astounding about the length of the movie though is how little there is in the way of actual horror. There is a period of around 40 minutes where not one scare is attempted or even teased. Not one.
But it’s not as if more scares would raised the movie’s game, because it’s clear neither Matt Bettinelli-Olpin or Tyler Gillett know how to scare an audience. They use the usual found footage tropes and a handful of jump scares but the film’s lack of pacing means they have no impact. Instead, the pair feel that if you linger on a shot long enough before launching your ‘scare’ then you might catch your audience of guard and therefore elicit the correct response. Only instead of screams they get groans. Often you can give director’s credit for at least trying, but Devil’s Due is quite happy to stay in first gear for the entire running time before driving full pelt into a wall during the last 10 minutes (it comes as no surprise that these two morons also worked on V/H/S). Found footage has never been the height of horror filmmaking and it is a gimmick that has long outstayed its welcome, but even by found footage standards this is awful.
Like most movies that use the format, Devil’s Due often gives up on the idea of found footage and resorts to multiple camera set ups so they can film coverage in order to edit together their dreadful movie. There’s a portion in which our couple are filmed by ‘hidden cameras’ which just makes it feel like a second-rate Paranormal Activity and there are several scenes which cut to various camera angles with no rhyme or reason. In the case of the wedding that opens the movie, they even capture reaction shots of the bride and groom during the speeches with not even an attempt to explain how. The whole point of the sub-genre is to convince the audience that what is in front of them is documented footage of real-life events, but that verisimilitude is ruined when you constantly cut to different angles to remind you you’re watching a movie made by idiots who couldn’t afford a tripod.
Usually when reviewing a found footage movie there’s the idea that it would have been better off it if was made outside of the sub-genre’s parameters, but Devil’s Due is such a bore to sit through that it’s a claim that can’t be made. The 88 minutes drag at an absurd pace and the lack of character, action and emotion makes the film a chore to reach the end credits. Even when the film descends into utter sillyness during the closing moments, there’s no satisfaction because everything leading to it was dreary nonsense. It does embrace the madness of its story, but its more laughable than anything else.
There can’t be many films released this year that will be worse than Devil’s Due. It’s pure crap from start to end with terrible characters, lame dialogue, boring pacing and dreadful excuses for why the camera is constantly on. If ever there was a movie to point to in order to put found footage to rest, it would be this garbage.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Luke Owen is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.