Devil’s Due (2014)

by - January 17th, 2014 - Movie Reviews


Familiar Devil’s Due Carries Tensions to Term

Something happened during Samantha (Allison Miller) and Zach Miller’s (Zach Gilford) honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. She’s returned pregnant, and while the two overjoyed at the news and enjoyed themselves during their newlywed holiday there’s a lost night the last evening they were there neither can recall and that’s worrisome enough to mute their collective joy.

Turns out that’s for good reason. The pregnancy isn’t going entirely as it is supposed to. Samantha’s mood swings are oftentimes violently out of control, while strange happening both inside their house and throughout their immediate neighborhood have Zach noticeably on edge. There’s some sort of conspiracy tracking their every move, its obsession with the baby criminal in nature, maybe more than that, potentially Satanic.

So, basically, Devil’s Due is the Rosemary’s Baby of the found footage horror film genre, but instead of the husband being in on the demonic cabal trying to use his wife as a vessel for Satan’s spawn he’s the intrepid investigator attempting to put the pieces together before it’s too late. Otherwise, though, Lindsay Devlin’s script follows the template set forth in Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic and Ira Levin’s best-seller almost to the letter meaning there aren’t a ton of surprises to be found as far as the central mysteries themselves are concerned.

Be that as it may, the movie isn’t half bad. Devlin’s scenario emphasizes character-building over scares, making Zach and Samantha more three dimensional than normal a somewhat impressive feat considering the limitations that power this genre. More, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (V/H/S) do a nice job of shaking things up a little bit, going The Bay and End of Watch route using whatever sort of cameras are available at any given moment in order to tell their tale. Together, the trio isn’t afraid to slow things down and to take their time, letting events develop slowly and with precision make the shocks somewhat more effective in the process.

The problem with these Paranormal Activity-style supernatural riffs is that they are starting to follow a discernable pattern and as such the shocks and moments of terror are becoming more and more hard to come by as these sorts of films continue to increase in number. In the case if this effort, at a certain point the inherent silliness of it all overpowers the moderate scares that are found, the last third an increasingly frenetic but decreasingly interesting affair that sadly wears out its welcome with frustrating speed.

Still, I can’t say I minded watching Devil’s Due. It has some unsettling moments, not the least of which is a sequence featuring three teens out having a good time stumbling upon a scene of wildlife carnage they shouldn’t have, and the performances from both Miller and Gilford are pretty good all things considered. I like that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett aren’t afraid to slow things down, to put character first and everything else second, allowing the viewer to connect emotionally to what is going on when by all accounts they know better than to do so. The movie doesn’t deliver, not at the end, at least, but it does carry its tension to term, that in and of itself almost good enough to make seeing the baby born moderately worthwhile.

Film Rating: 2½ (out of 4)

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