I feel like the horror genre has had a rough run lately. The Conjuring and You’re Next may have freshened things up last summer, but what have we had since then? Insidious: Chapter 2? Not as good as the original. Carrie? An unnecessary remake. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones? Don’t even get me started. You’ll see my rant on that in the near future. Then, Devil’s Due came along, and I thought, “Well…maybe.” So I caught a showing with a couple of friends.
Devil’s Due basically sets itself up as a modern, found-footage version of Rosemary’s Baby (an excellent film that I praise in this write-up of my favorite horror classics). The film could be very interesting— the key words being “could be.” But the fact is this found-footage horror simply fails to deliver.
Synopsis: “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 behavior 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.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: Lead characters in horror films can be tricky to create—sometimes they’re downright unlikeable, other times they have no personality whatsoever. Luckily, newlyweds Sam (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford) are pretty easy to like. They are both sweet characters, and they are quite adorably in love. You get to see them doing lots of cute, couple-preparing-for-a-baby things, but it’s not cheesy, and there’s always a sense of dread accompanying these things, as we know who the baby’s real father is. Plus, the pregnancy gradually makes Sam into a different, almost zombie-like person, which worries poor Zach to death. There are a few solid creepy moments—several involving Sam in the nursery, where she often spaces out. There’s also a pervading sense of being watched, and not just because Zach is toting around a camera for a good chunk of the film. Mysterious people are always watching the couple’s home; sometimes they are literally watching from the street, but more often than not they are spying via several secret cameras. There are definitely enough things going on to keep your interest. Favorite scene: Pregnant Sam goes grocery shopping and behaves a little…unconventionally. I won’t spoil it, but her odd behavior draws more than a few startled looks. One kid stares with an open mouth, and it’s pretty funny.
The Bad: The scares aren’t scary enough. We see most of them coming, and we know exactly how they’re going to happen. Seriously, this material could’ve been borrowed from any found-footage film, and just about any found-footage film has done it better. I think the film is relying on its sense of dread to carry it, but dread has to have a payoff, and, in my humble opinion, the payoff here isn’t big enough. There are also several instances when so much more could’ve been done to make for a more compelling story. For example, Sam goes to church and spooks a priest in a fairly fun moment. Yet almost nothing is done with the church or the priest after this, save a brief scene involving Zach and the priest later. Sam is having a demonic baby—shouldn’t there be more tension with the church? It’s one of many missed opportunities. Even the cult monitoring Sam and Zach becomes a fairly wasted element as we hardly learn anything about them. Basically, Devil’s Due has a potentially interesting story, but it’s watered down vagueness and lack of originality. Disappointment at its finest. Least favorite scene: Pretty much the entire end of the film. The big climax is ridiculously overdramatic, and what follows is ridiculously anticlimactic. Not exactly the best one-two punch.
To Sum It Up: Unfortunately, this film is everything I was afraid it would be: predictable, derivative, and not very scary. It doesn’t hold a candle to Rosemary’s Baby. And so the trend of bland horrors continues. Let’s hope the genre bounces back. And soon.
My Grade: D+
Sorry if this review seemed to lack enthusiasm. This was the definition of a “meh” film. However, lots coming at you this week! More guest resolutions, a post about a TV premiere, and, hopefully, another review of a new movie. Stay tuned!
P.S. I just found out that I have been accepted into the Large Association of Movie Blogs, which means I’m a little LAMB! Number 1731, to be exact. You can check out my profile here. So thrilled to have been accepted into this wonderful organization!