A FINE ADDITION TO SEVERAL GENRES AND SUBGENRES AT ONCE, DEVIL’S DUE WORKS FOR ME
Main Cast: Allison Miller and Zach Gilford
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet
I don’t recall my initial reaction to the movie after seeing it in theaters, but I think I disliked the ending, which is, unfortunately, the case with a LOT of horror movies. Having seen it again now, I don’t think the end of the movie is all that bad. The climax feels sudden and maybe a little rushed, but the movie DOES provide a climax and resolution, as opposed to most other found footage movies that just end on a jump scare and it’s over. Devil’s Due may spend its time aping many other horror tropes, but at least it doesn’t leave us hanging.
Allison Miller (“Terra Nova”) and Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”) play Samantha and Zach McCall as newlyweds who, after a period of lost time on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, return home to discover Samantha is pregnant.
All is well in the beginning, but as the pregnancy goes on, Zach begins to suspect sinister doings in the conception of his child. Mysterious figures are seen watching their house from the street. Their doctor is inexplicably replaced by one they’ve never met before. Their priest has a stroke in the middle of mass while staring intently at Samantha. And Zach is finding strange symbols and markings all over their house. He asks Father Thomas if he knows anything about the symbols and Father Thomas tells him they’re related to the coming of the Antichrist. Well, that doesn’t sound good for anybody!
Devil’s Due is written by Lindsay Delvin and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet, the men behind the best part of the original V/H/S, “10/31/98”. The found footage of this movie comes from several different places, mostly from Zach’s desire to document their lives together, first for themselves and later for the baby. This is a tired cliché at this point and becomes harder and harder to believe the more found footage movies I see, and that’s speaking as someone who absolutely loves this sub-genre. Luckily, the directors have come up with a few new methods to use as workarounds as well. The CCTV footage of Sam in the grocery store eating raw hamburger while onlookers stand by in horror is very effective. Later, a group of kids filming themselves in the woods find Sam hovering over the body of a dead deer before they’re tossed about and crushed by an invisible force. But probably the creepiest use of the footage comes from the cameras a group of unknown intruders have installed in the McCall home.
The fact there’s something evil behind the baby’s conception is no secret in the movie. We see the unconscious couple being taken from a party into what looks like an underground hideout where Samantha is placed inside a strange symbol drawn on the ground while the sound of voices chanting ring all around. We don’t get to see many details, because we’re getting the footage from Zach’s camera which was placed in Sam’s purse earlier in the night and somehow turned itself on? But what we do see, very early in the film, is enough to tell us what’s happening to them and their baby is on purpose, for whatever reason.
Like I said, found footage Rosemary’s Baby. But still, the writer and directors have taken the idea and made it their own.
The relationship between Sam and Zach is the focus for much of the movie, and they seem like a good couple. I’m not sure I buy the lifestyle, big house packed with expensive looking furniture, lots of dinner parties, and yet Zach mentions work once in the movie but never actually seems to GO to work. Granted, we’re covering a 9-month pregnancy in the space of less than 90 minutes, so there’s a ton of stuff we don’t see, but I don’t even know what he does for a living. They both seem pretty young, though, early to mid-20s (Sam is still in school), and they’re living a hell of a lot better than anyone I ever knew at that age. It all smacks of “movie life” not “real life.”
Despite not believing this is Zach and Samantha’s real life, however, Devil’s Due has enough creepy and horrible moments to make it work anyway. Seeing Samantha spiral down against her will with Zach also unable to do anything about it is the heart of the movie and the directors take full advantage of playing on that theme.
Devil’s Due may not be the most effective found footage, or the most effective horror movie…hell, it’s not even the most effective devil baby movie, but as a good time in front of the television for 88 minutes, there are worse ways you could spend that time. I give this a thumbs up and an A for effort.
–C. Dennis Moore