MOVIE: * (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Allison Miller as SAMANTHA MCCALL
Zach Gilford as ZACH MCCALL
Sam Anderson as FATHER THOMAS
Roger Payano as CAB DRIVER
Vanessa Ray as SUZIE
Satan as THE BABY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
BY KEVIN CARR
Watching a movie in a theater can be a very different experience than watching it at home. In fact, it’s not uncommon for my opinion to change slightly – or even considerably – from when I see a movie in its original theatrical release to its debut on home video. Sometimes the movie works better on video for me (as I saw with “Kingdom of Heaven”), and sometimes revisiting the film on DVD or Blu-ray becomes tedious and my opinion sours (as happened with “Funny People”).
I’m not saying that my opinion has changed greatly on “Devil’s Due” from seeing it in the theaters in January. I still didn’t like the movie very much, but it wasn’t as rough to watch on a smaller screen, and a lot of that has to do with its found footage presentation. Simply put, a found footage movie on the big screen can often be nauseating because of the herky-jerky camera moves. Those are still in the movie at home, but it’s not an assault on the senses as it is in the theater.
“Devil’s Due” tells the story of a young married couple who end up being kidnapped on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. The woman becomes part of an ancient ritual to impregnate her with the antichrist. When they return home, they discover that she’s pregnant, and their expectation for a beautiful baby turns sour when crazy evil things start happening around her.
Directed by the Radio Silence group, who made a name for themselves making creepy YouTube videos and having a pretty strong segment in the “V/H/S” film, “Devil’s Due” suffers from practically every found footage cliche out there – from the character who can’t stop filming and the neglect to actually look at the footage when something bizarre happens to the overbearing improvised dialogue that talks to much and the lack of any sort of conclusion.
Had I never seen a found footage movie, I might have considered this film to be interesting at least, but so many of the tricks that come through have been seen time and time again. However, beyond simply my distaste for the genre, I simply did not like the characters.
Zach Gilford plays Zach the groom, who simply cannot stop filming with his video camera, even when his pregnant wife is being assaulted or almost run over by a car. I understand the need for this to excuse the camera being on constantly, but it makes the character suffer when the video footage becomes more important than the most important person in his life.
Allison Miller is fine as Samantha the bride, but her pretty face and bubbly attitude doesn’t overcome the lack of sympathy I had for someone in this situation who does nothing to change things. I didn’t feel like she was an unaware tortured soul like Mia Farrow in “Rosemary’s Baby.” Instead she just seems negligent. There are some interesting scenes that happen with here – for example, one in which she rips open raw meat at a supermarket and starts devouring it – but there’s no resolution to the scene, and it’s never mentioned again.
I can forgive a lot in a horror movie, from clueless characters to nonsensical plot points, but if I don’t like the essence of the characters, it just doesn’t work for me. And that’s really sad with this movie because I think it could have made a decent horror movie if it wasn’t so burdened by its own subgenre.
The plus side to the “Devil’s Due” Blu-ray is that it has some pretty good special features. There’s an audio commentary with the Radio Silence gang, as well as additional deleted scenes, an extended ending and the director’s photo album. There’s also a featurette to introduce you to the Radio Silence team as well as their famous YouTube shorts “Alien Roommate Prank Goes Bad” and “Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly” to demonstrate the team’s humble beginnings.
So, the Blu-ray is worth watching for the bonus content, but the feature film is the weakest part of the disc.