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DIRECTOR: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
CAST: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Roger Payano, Vanessa Ray
RUNNING TIME: 90 min
RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)
RELIGIOUS horror movies have saturated the market for aeons.
When you have classics like The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Rite, it is sacrilegious for any filmmaker to fall short when making a movie along biblical lines.
Devil’s Due opens with a verse from 1 John 2:18: “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”
While this is telling of the supernatural mayhem about to be unleashed, the execution is more a burning indictment of co-directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett.
Relying as they did on Lindsay Devlin for the story – bearing in mind that she had only a documentary credit to her name – they began at a disadvantage.
Told in a paranormal activity-esque style, Devil’s Due centres on newlyweds Zach McCall (Gilford), who is constantly videoing their memories, and Samantha McCall (Miller).
The couple head off to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon. That’s where the seed of evil is planted, so to speak. After becoming friendly with a taxi driver, he takes them to an underground party of sorts, where the couple get so wasted they can’t remember a thing about that night.
Shortly after they get home, Samantha discovers she is pregnant, although she is on the pill. That’s when things start to slowly go supernaturally pear-shaped.
Samantha starts getting moody, starts craving meat and is seen feeding off wild animals in the woods. Add to this her nose bleeds and intense stomach cramps.
At first, Zach fobs it off as hormonal changes.
But he is increasingly worried by her bizarre behaviour, the little heaps of ash scattered around their home – and the strangers hovering close by.
What’s wrong with the film?
Let’s start with the plot, which dwells more on the couple’s relationship rather than the evil consuming it. The screen time is largely monopolised by idyllic family dinners, the baby shower and birthday party.
Meanwhile, the questions about the taxi driver and what he wants of Samantha and the baby aren’t fully explored. Viewers simply get graphic snapshots of Samantha’s deteriorating and violent behaviour – presumably the so-called “twists” in the plot.
Although Gilford and Miller are endearing as happy newlyweds and play the emotional fallouts with conviction, the story becomes unbearably tedious.
Even the scene in which the husband is interrogated by the chary police – it is such a futile scene.
For the most part, Devil’s Due unfolds more like a scripted reality series than a horrifying tale.
Apart from crucifying the plot for being dreadfully short on entertainment value, the climax, which hints at a possible sequel, leaves horror aficionados with more questions than closure.
If you liked Paranormal Activity, Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose you may enjoy this.