“Devil’s Due” hit theaters last Friday with all the impact of a pillow hitting a brick house. There doesn’t seem to be much fanfare or interest surrounding this movie, which is a rare occurrence when a found footage film gets a theatrical release. Is this some sort of weird fluke or did “Devil’s Due” deserve its jaded reception? Read on to find out.
“Devil’s Due” comes by way of directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet from a script by Lindsay Devlin. The movie centers on Samantha and Zach McCall (played by Allison Miller and Zach Gilford respectively) who are a newlywed couple on a honeymoon to Santa Domingo. During a night of wild drinking and partying, the two are taken by a mysterious cult and Samantha is impregnated with a demon baby by way of a demonic ritual.
The rest of the movie then takes a slow and methodical pace as it builds up to the demonic birth. A large part of the film is devoted to Zach and Samantha interacting with each other and dealing with the pregnancy. Unfortunately, this bogs the movie down because Zach and Samantha aren’t particularly interesting characters. Allison Miller and Zach Gilford do a perfectly fine job of portraying the couple, but there’s no real substance to these people. Occasionally other characters are injected in to the film, but there’s nothing about them that adds characterization or enhances the narrative. Everyone in the film is as plain as white bread.
When a horror movie is plagued with generic characters, the usual saving grace is how the scares are handled. Sadly, this is another area that the film is lacking in. Sprinkled throughout are some standard jump scares that are pretty typical of the things we’ve seen in previous found footage films. There are shots of people creeping around in the dark with night vision, people jokingly scaring each other, and objects being smashed by supernatural forces. There are very few scares to be found in this film and the ones that are there are too predictable.
The most memorable part of the film is the ending, which features some unique visual effects that I really enjoyed. However, the movie does something which robs the finale of most of its tension. At the start of the film we’re treated to a quick intro that essentially reveals the fate of our main characters. It’s a revelation that cannibalizes most of the suspense from the climax because you know certain characters aren’t in danger. So while it’s a visual treat, the final scare of the film lacks a lot of impact.
The sad truth is that “Devil’s Due” isn’t a bad film, it’s simply a generic product. It’s easy to see that a lot of people worked hard on this project, but the end result is a bland entry that is neither good nor bad. It simply is. Had this been released sometime after the first “Paranormal Activity”, I think it would have had a greater impact on audiences. But in a post “Paranormal” world, we’ve seen found footage films taken in some innovative directions. And, rather than pushing the style forward, “Devil’s Due” feels like a relic from the early days of the genre.
“Devil’s Due” is in theaters now.