Devil's Due

It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a really good supernatural horror film. And my wait continues. “Devil’s Due” isn’t a horror film, it’s just a horrible film. Guilty of every tired cliché of the increasingly played out ‘found footage’ genre, this is an intriguing premise stripped of any sense of suspense or fear by inept direction, an uninspired script and a largely unappealing cast.

The improbable event of someone obsessively filming their life is dealt with early on: it’s a habit our ‘hero’ has inherited from his Dad; a desire to record his family history. Okay, whatever. Bring on the scares.

Following a hazy ‘missing’ night on honeymoon, our newlywed couple are surprised but pleased to find out they’re expecting. Of course, we the audience know that she is pregnant with unholy issue. From there on out, it’s actually a fairly tedious ride. It takes ages to get going and when it finally does, it gives us very few sinister moments and a handful of lazy jump scares, usually the dog barking (a dog who is often conveniently narratively absent without explanation). Our leading man, Zach McCall (Zach Gilford) is too whiny and downright stupid to be credible, especially in asking us to believe he would not notice some of the weirder things much much earlier. Only Allison Miller as the possessed Samantha McCall and Sam Anderson (from TV’s ‘Lost’) as Father Thomas emerge with any credit from this disappointment.

There are a couple – only a couple, mind – of clever, spooky moments so it’s not a complete and utter loss. It does, however, feel like the makers get a little bit concerned they might accidentally be making something scary so when they approach something actually resembling horror, they’re quick to shut it down and go back to cutting from one unlikely camera view to another. The framing device of a bloodied and dazed Zach being interrogated by the Police just doesn’t make sense. If they [the Police] watched the same footage we see, they’d believe his story but they clearly don’t. So whose found footage are we watching? And why (and how) did they tag Police interview footage onto the beginning and end?

There’s real horror potential in taking the phenomenon of demonic possession and linking it to the very real, and sometimes unpredictable, physical and emotional changes pregnancy brings. None of that potential is realised here. It’s a clear sign a horror film is in serious trouble when the best it can do to try and provoke an audience jump is to have one of the characters close a fridge door a bit too hard. Seriously, the screwball comedy episode of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ called  ‘Devil’s Due’ was more frightening than this film.

The terrors of pregnancy are, of course, secondary to the pain of childbirth – something that we are often told as men we can’t understand. Well, maybe I haven’t experienced the excruciating agony of childbirth, but I have sat through “Devil’s Due”, so let’s call it a draw.

score 2

2/10 

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