Monday, January 9, 2012


Review: The Devil Inside
1.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

"Connect the cuts," Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) hisses to her doe-eyed daughter, Isabella (Fernanda Andrade), who's come to visit Maria in a Roman mental hospital after 20 years of estrangement. "Connect the cuts, connect the cuts, connect the cuts." The chant is fair warning for the inevitable revelation of Maria's self-mutilation, a tic-tac-toe patchwork of upside-down crosses that she's apparently been carving into her forearms since she murdered three clergy members back in 1989. It's also an unintentional nod to the first fundamental faux pas of this klutzy bamboozler, directed and co-written with senseless audacity by William Brent Bell (Stay Alive). Bell's cuts are connected with the formal intuition of a filmmaker possessed by Ed Wood, as every abrupt jump that aims for dramatic intensity begets comedy instead—or merely points to a puerile grasp of continuity. The common scenario involves film-within-film footage of over-the-top possession victims curtly juxtaposed with reaction shots from onlooking characters, whose soap-opera-serious expressions couldn't be further from those of The Devil Inside's actual audience (what's unwittingly created is the kind of awkward, how-about-that humor often seen in one-camera sitcoms). Bell doesn't mean to be in the business of jokes, but his movie is a big one, and it's most certainly at the viewer's expense.

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