Monday, March 5, 2012

And the Devil Makes Two of Us

Earlier today I made the decision, some would call it masochistic, to go and see The Devil Inside. We'll get to that in a moment. First, I'd like to talk about this:

Cinema 6 at Village Geelong, 1.30pm on 05/03/2012

The fact that cinema six of Village Geelong was empty at 1.30pm wasn't the strange thing, but was strange was what happened next. As I sat there alone in an empty cinema waiting for The Devil Inside to begin I dutifully sat through trailers for Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Something Something, Battleship, American Pie: Reunion and the absolutely ridiculous-looking Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (I honestly can't tell which of those was more desperate) before the lights finally went down and the movie started with what was actually a pretty creepy opening scene. Just me and devil, apparently, inside the cinema. What wicked fun that could have been.

Then, some five minutes into the movie, and about 15-20 minutes after the session was scheduled to begin, in walked a couple. I suspected they were in their late teens. They sat down in the row behind me and continued the conversation that they had been having upon their entrance. The girl began to open a bag of M&Ms or jaffas; I got suitably annoyed. At first I just turned and glared and they gave a little chuckle, but a few minutes later I turned and asked them to be quiet. Being the only other one in the cinema, and being there by myself, I would have thought they could tell I wasn't just there to kill time. How silly I was. Soon after my asking them to stop talking the girl leaned over...

*me turning warily, ready to fume*
"Is this The Devil Inside?"
"Is it a documentary?"
"Ummm... no. It's made to look like one, but it's not real."
"Oh. Thanks."

A minute later the two of them got and left. As they were leaving the girl thought it appropriate to screech out one last time "THANKS!" Manners, I guess, hadn't gone completely out the window. Still, it was a highly bizarre situation, and one that just further cemented the fact that people are idiots. I initially figured they had stumbled into the cinema to see any old film, which is weird enough for me to understand as it is, but then when you think that they would have had to pay some $16 (or however much it is these days) each to get in? I hope they at least went out and got a refund. I do like though that the idea of a fake documentary turned them off so much that they had to leave after only five minutes of being there. Perhaps these two were smarter than I gave them credit for?

I mean, I'd have been mighty pissed off if I'd had to have paid to see The Devil Inside. It's a bad movie, that we can surely all agree on, but it's main problem is that it is just really, really dull. While I give the filmmakers credit for occasionally giving the proceeding a lovely, cold look thanks to the Italian and Romanian filming locations, and several of the exorcism scenes themselves are discomforting in the way a scary movie should be, there was far less going on than any respectable movie should have. A tiresome over-reliance on past exorcist film tropes, repetitive plotting and dialogue, hopelessly ugly, strands of plot are initiated and never go anywhere, and characters rarely seem to act like actual human beings who are seeing what they are seeing. Perhaps most annoying of all is that, despite the "found footage" concept, little effort was made into actually achieving a sense of realism. You have a room full of Italian Catholic priests in Italy and not only do they speak English, but do so without a hint of accent? Come on now!

(The next paraphraph features some spoilers regarding the end, so if you at all give an ounce of care, you might want to just skip it until after the image)

And then, of course, there is the "ending". Not so much ending as it is just stopping half way through a scene, it's not hard to figure out why audiences have famously booed. It makes sense from a logic stand point, as this being a "found footage" movie means it needs the characters to be, well, alive in order to film it, but where is fails - as opposed to, say, The Blair Witch Project, [rec] and Paranormal Activity - is that the end feels lazy and anticlimactic. There's no sense that that is the logical end and that there was no more to say. It literally just stops as if they ran out of money to film a third act and thought nobody would notice.

The Devil Inside is mostly ugly, so here's a shot from The Exorcist
At least Australia, from what I can gather, hasn't gotten the truly audience-hating end of a web address flashing up on scene pre-credits telling audiences to go to for more information. Australian audiences, it seems, get the web address after the credits, which are a mind-bending feat all of their own. The IMDb claims The Devil Inside as being 83 minutes long, and at least ten of those are surely the end credits. I don't mean that as a joke, I mean they actually take up approximately ten minutes of the running time. Either they are a surefire cure for insomnia or Hollywood's idea of a hilarious practical joke, I can't quite tell. Either way, the slowest credits crawl in the history of cinema - surely, at least, of what I have seen - almost has to be seen to be believed.

So, basically, The Devil Inside is poor form. Sadly, it's not even worth getting particularly angry about, either. It lazily limps about doing its mediocre thing and then it ends. It's never so-bad-it's-good (although I was howling during the end credits they were so freakin' slow!), nor is it so-bad-I-wanna-die, it's just really flat and uninteresting and a waste of some good elements surrounded by signs of filmmakers who just didn't care enough. D

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