When Eli Roth tweeted that Devil's Due is "so smart, creative, inventive, and fun. Very very scary", I felt an urge to believe him. However, this was before I remembered the franchise Roth is behind; Hostel, a series of horror films infamous for their gory, obscene content that has divided fans of the genre, to say the least. I have a feeling that Devil's Due may lead to the same result. I for one, strongly oppose this "horror" film.
Directed by Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, half of the filmmaking collective Radio Silence, the supernatural horror film focuses on a nauseating newlywed couple, Sam (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford), receiving the joyful surprise that Sam has fallen pregnant after a mysterious lost night on their honeymoon. Even here there are many frustrating aspects of the film; the couple are so naive that even after Sam's palms are read and the psychic begins urging, "they're waiting for you", complete with piercing red eyes, they allow a seemingly unlicensed taxi driver to take them for some "divertido" in the backstreets of Santo Domingo. From here they are led through some shoddy red doors into an underground cave/party of some sort, where Sam remarks that there are men watching her from the other side of the venue - one of them being the taxi driver - before the camera cuts out and opens in yet another dark cave, where a Satanic ritual takes place with an unconscious Sam and Zach. This may sound like a vague description, but unfortunately Devil's Due is a vague film - in their struggles to try and make the found- footage style seem authentic, the directors instead create a frustratingly weak and boring storyline that meanders through ninety minutes of nothingness.
Although classified as a horror film, the attempts to scare the audience or even make them uncomfortable are non-existent. Instead of watching a horror film this genuinely feels like a documentary on pregnancy, with more time spent focusing on Sam feeling tired or in pain than anything else. There are a few scenes that begin to feel uncomfortable, yet they result in absolutely nothing; for example, during a surprise party held at Sam and Zach's house, Sam claims that she needs a rest. The many security cameras placed in various hidden areas of the house by an unknown clan (these plot holes are left completely unexplained) show her make her way upstairs, before entering the nursery ready for the baby and beginning to carve a large symbol into the floor. A young girl, presumably a member of the family, begins playing hide and seek with a friend/sibling/cousin/relative/boyfriend/acquaintance, complete with a video camera set to night vision. She meanders around the house in darkness for a few minutes, before entering the nursery, where she is welcomed by a demonic Sam screaming for her to get out. Surely this would lead to the family investigating the strange behaviour, right? No. Instead, we cut to the young girl's first communion at the local church, where she seems unfazed by the previous events, and when the priest in the church begins bleeding profusely in the presence of demonic Sam, nobody seems to react to her red eyes, her vacant stare, and her death grip on Zach's wrist.
Everything seems to lack a resolution - whether we witness Sam eating raw meat from the butcher's aisle through supermarket CCTV, or we follow a trio of unknown teenagers as they find Sam devouring a dead animal in the woods before being telepathically murdered by an unseen force, none of these scenes lead into the next with a clear cause-and-effect storyline, making the film seem frustratingly disjointed and clunky. The events never escalate into the true horror form until the very last five minutes, during which we revisit a house touched upon extremely briefly earlier in the film, where the cult (which remains unexplained) gather to summon something I have no idea about. It isn't explained at all. I learnt more about ultrasound than the demonic offspring, which is what the film is supposed to be about. And after a rather entertaining sequence during which Zach returns home to find many mysterious members of the cult surrounding him, and his wife's labour causing the house to shake, rumble and almost self- destruct, the birth of the devil child is so underwhelming it actually infuriated me. I endured what seemed like hours upon hours of throwaway home movie footage to reach the climax of the film, during which Sam kills Zach's sister off-camera, Zach returns home to find the furniture flying across the home and his sister slumped in the corner of a bedroom with her insides laid next to her, and tries to comfort Sam which obviously doesn't work. Instead, she throws him across the room a few times (he still goes back to her) before pinning him to the wall in a crucifix pose and cutting open her stomach, before falling on the floor and dying. Zach cries over her bleeding body, telling her that she's fine, as the taxi driver enters the house, reaches into Sam's stomach and takes a perfectly normal crying baby, before leaving.
That's it. That is the film.
Actually, no, it isn't. Before the audience gets the sheer delight of the end credits, we see another sickly sweet newlywed couple bounce about the streets of central Paris, before hailing a taxi driven only by the taxi driver, who asks if they want to go somewhere fun. So whether the directors' intentions were to create plenty of questions for a sequel or if they simply forgot about half of the purely awful story they tried to create, Devil's Due is definitely an experience I never want to relive. I think I would rather have the offspring of Satan growing inside of me than watch this film again.
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