Anytime I can see something in a movie or character that I can personally relate to I’m more apt to be drawn into the flick. Between an above average trailer, and outstanding promo video on YouTube and the fact that my wife is pregnant with our third child, Devil’s Due was high on my list of flicks to see early in 2014. Sadly… I did just that.
SPOILER ALERT: This review will talk openly about the plot of the film. If you don’t want to be spoiled skip the review until you’ve seen it.
PLOT: The film should have had a spoiler alert in front of it too. About 10 seconds into it, we’re shown how the movie ends with a guy sitting in an interrogation room answering questions about his wife’s death to which he responds, “I didn’t do it“. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha McCall (Allison Miller) get married and head to the Dominican on their honeymoon. On their last night there, they visit a palm reader who proceeds to tell Sam, “They’ve been waiting for you“. We’re not told who “they” are at this point (or ever really) but this naturally freaks Sam & Zach out. So… rather than doing what every normal couple would do and simply returning to their hotel, they proceed to follow a pushy cab driver to an underground club in a forign country and engage in an alcohol fueled dance party. Sam gets black out drunk and she’s involved in some sort of ritual which we’re shown bits and pieces of.
What I forgot to mention is we’re being shown all of this via “home videos” shot by Zach who’s decided to record EVERYTHING in their lives as a married couple. Apparently his father recorded stuff when he was growing up and while it annoyed him at the time, now that he’s older he sees the value in the videos and has decided to start chronicling their married life.
Now home, Sam’s shocked to learn that she’s pregnant even though she claims to have taken the pill religiously. Zach is thrilled the news and they go about their lives as first time parents recording everything from ultrasound appointments to normal everyday conversations between the two of them.
As her pregnancy proceeds, Sam begins to experience nosebleeds, bruising, weird food cravings (raw meat), agression, telekinetic abilities and feelings of rage. (Aside from the telekenisis this looks like a pretty normal pregnancy to me 😉 ) The couple begins to feel that they’re being watched and that there may be something wrong with the baby despite her doctor’s suggestion to the contrary.
They attend a first communion of a family member (a niece maybe?) and the same priest who married Sam & Zach (Sam Anderson) is presiding. He begins to cough and hemmorage blood from his nose and mouth during the ceremony. Zach begins to review the hours of pointless footage he’s been taking and sees the crazy cab driver from their honeymoon. Zach then goes to visit the priest in the hospital (I thought he was dead honestly) to inquire about some symbols he’s been seeing and the priest relays a Bible verse that talks about the symbol and the upcoming return of the Antichrist.
Zach then investigates the creepy abandoned house on their block only to find close circuit TVs of his home set up and a bunch of cult(ish) looking members. He escapes and returns home where he hears Sam screaming and the house in shambles. When he finally finds her, she’s in the nursery holding a knife which she received from an anonymous person at her baby shower. She telekinetically blasts Zach against the wall and slices open her belly. When Zach comes to he’s covered in blood and finds his wife laying in a pool of blood wonering where their baby is before she dies. The baby had been taken out of her womb by creepy cabby and some random dude. We’re re-shown the interogation scene from the beginning and the film ends with another blissfully happy couple being taken to an off the beaten path place by crazy cab driver guy.
THOUGHTS: I’ll start by saying I’m not a big fan of found footage films. I’ve never seen any of the Paranormal Activity films and I really don’t plan to even though I’ve heard good things about a couple of the films. I find them to be a cheap way out and a way for studios to make an inexpensive horror film.
That being said, Devil’s Due had me super excited. The premise is great, the trailer was good and we were treated to a pretty outstanding promo video called Devil Baby Attack which as it turned out was better than the movie as it… you know… actually showed a baby.
If you can’t tell by the tone of this review thusfar I really didn’t enjoy this one. First of all, as I’ve already covered they burried the lead. Right up front we know dude is going to survive and get caught while girl is not around. Sort of a buzz kill but I could let it slide as I’ve seen films play with timeline very effectively. This one doesn’t. Rather than doing the jump around game that films such as Pulp Fiction or Saw II do so well, this one just showed us the end at the beginning and then showed us how we got there. Snooze.
I’m not quite sure why this movie is even rated R. Aside from the belly cutting scene in the last 3 minutes of the movie (which isn’t even all that graphic. Lori’s impromptu C-section on The Walking Dead was much more barbaric), there’s hardly any blood, no nudity, very little bad language and not even an on screen death that I can remember. There’s a scene where Sam is eating a dead deer, but aside from that I can’t think of a single reason this would be given this rating.
The story that we’re given is pretty weak as all we’re really told is by the priest: The Antichrist is coming. Um… OK. We’re given a little bit of background about Sam as apparently she was cut from her dying mother’s womb and was then orphaned but it’s not enough to build a character around.
I don’t want to completely blast the film. Both of the leads do an outstanding job. They both manage to pull off this found footage in a way that makes you actually thing you’re watching real footage. Their facial expressions, the tone in their voices, inflection, etc. is spot on and looks like legit home video footage. Sam Anderson’s convulsion scene is very well acted as well, though he plays it a bit “cooky” when he’s giving us plot points while frantically praying the rosary in the hospital.
I’ve heard quite a bit of talk about how the next Friday The 13th film is going to be a found footage piece that may not even have Jason in it. I imagine producers will look like films such as The Marked Ones and Devil’s Due and look at the box office. I hate to say it but I really hope this one tanks. If this is what we’re being given from the “found footage” sub-genre I’m not interested.
There were a couple of really creepy scenes (footage of Sam eating raw meat in the supermarket, the baby in her belly as shown in the trailer and a sleeing Sam opening her eyes under the night vision treatment) but the lack of blood, story and even jump scares left this one really flat. Perhaps I’ve seen too many of these flicks but I could tell just by the camera angles whether I should be looking at the character in the shot or in the background. Multiple times I’d be looking in the background of the shot and sure enough there goes dude walking across the screen ala The Strangers. The good news is this was early in 2014 so we could get it out of the way and go on to bigger and better things later in the year. Strong not recommend.
Have you seen Devil’s Due? Was I too harsh? What did you think?