Review: Devil’s Due / Cert: 15 / Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett / Screenplay: Lindsay Devlin / Starring: Zach Gilford, Alison Miller / Release Date: Out Now
Fears that the found footage film fad had faded appear to be unfounded in the wake of the recent release of the umpteenth entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise, quickly followed by this must-try-harder effort from Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett, whose contribution to the original V/H/S anthology showed much more promise than this feature-length debut delivers. Devil’s Due superficially looks a sure bet for the Halloween season crowd but on closer inspection it reveals itself to be little better than any number of similar cheapo horrors which lurk unloved in the nether regions of straight-to-DVD world.
It starts off brightly and breezily as loved-up newlyweds Zach (Gilford) and Samantha (Miller) set off on their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. Naturally enough, they’re filming every minute of it for the delight of future generations. On the last night of their holiday they take a taxi back to their hotel but find themselves taken to a dingy underground nightclub where much illicit booze is quaffed and an unconscious Sam becomes the centrepiece of an eerie supernatural ritual. Back home in the good ol’ US of A the couple’s lives are disrupted by the unexpected news that Sam is pregnant. Family and friends share their joy… and then the creepy stuff starts…
The trouble is, we’ve seen all this creepy stuff before. Devil’s Due manages to build up a decent sense of creeping dread as the audience waits for the first signs of inevitable funny business and we can almost tick them off the list of horror movie clichés – spontaneous nosebleeds, ferocious tempers, suspicious barking dog, demonic eyes, banging and crashing. The ‘found footage’ gimmick itself creaks here like an old barn door and the script has to leap through too many unlikely hoops to maintain its illusion that the story’s all been recorded on Zach’s camera, car park CCTV, supermarket security cameras and the phalanx of secret cameras rigged up around the couple’s house by the mysterious and unexplained cult who have engineered Sam’s unfortunate predicament.
Any fragile subtlety flies out of the window in the last act as Devil’s Due can’t decide whether it wants to be The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby or Paranormal Activity, so instead decides to pilfer liberally from all of them. But despite all the blood, the shrieking, the demonic possession and scenes of people flying through the air, Devil’s Due just ain’t scary because it’s doing nothing new with its box of tricks and seems happy to just wheel out familiar clichés with no real idea what to do with them.
To give the film its due though (ha), it passes the time, the performances are better than they really need to be but, like this reviewer, your soul may die just a little at the end at the realisation that a lot has been left unresolved and that the way has been paved for the inevitable sequel. Devil’s Due 2 anyone?
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10