When I first saw V/H/S a few years ago, one of the segments that I had liked the most was from a group of guys I had never really heard of who referred to themselves as “Radio Silence”. Their segment, “10/31/98”, was about four guys, played by Radio Silence themselves, attempting to go to a Halloween party and finding themselves in the middle of a ritualistic sacrifice in a haunted house. Even though I was only watching it on a little computer screen in low quality, what stood out was that there was no subtlety in the scares. Sure, they were using CGI instead of practical effects, but with so many found footage movies emphasizing subtlety it was really cool to see filmmakers effectively cranking the dial to 11 to try to make the viewer jump. After a couple of years of, ahem, “silence”, the team is back with a Devil’s Due, a full-blown wide theatrical release. The release date just kind of snuck up on me and I never even saw a trailer, I just knew it was found footage, had something to do with a baby, and was helmed by the Radio Silence crew. Luckily, what I got was a bigger budget and full-scale version of all the things I liked about “10/31/98”.
Check out homeboy to the left of the bride mean-mugging the happy couple. This extra CLEARLY made up an intricate backstory about how much he wanted to bone her.
Newlyweds Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller) decide to spend their honeymoon down in the Dominican Republic. Before heading down there, it’s established that Zach is starting to feel the tug of sentimentality and wants to record as many memories of the two as he can, so almost everything on the honeymoon is filmed. On their last night, after not being able to find their hotel, a kindly cab driver offers to take them to the best nightclub in town. The viewer sees that this night ends up with Zach and Samantha playing an unwitting part in some sort of ritual, and the next morning they have no recollection. Back from their honeymoon, Samantha is surprised to find out she is pregnant, despite using birth control. As her pregnancy develops, she starts to question whether or not everything is okay, as she finds herself possessed to eat raw meat in a grocery store, smashes car windows in an angry rage, and doesn’t react well to being in church. When Zach investigates the footage, he learns of the ritual and starts finding answers. Well, he gets some answers, as well as a devil baby. Or does he? I don’t know, I’m sure you could figure out where this story was headed.
I’ll bet this is another one of Mike Seaver’s pranks!
Yes, Devil’s Due can be easily described to friends by saying “Rosemary’s Baby meets Paranormal Activity“, but that shouldn’t be taken as any sort of insult. Other than having a plot that has some similarities to the most well-known paranoia-driven “Devil baby” movie of all time and telling that story through the use of cameras within the film, that’s where the similarities end. The success of Rosemary’s Baby is through making the viewer question who Rosemary who she can or can’t trust, and it’s obvious in Devil’s Due who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. The question is more about whether or not Zach or Samantha will be able to do anything about their situation before the threat comes to term. The horror market continues to be flooded by “found footage” movies, but Devil’s Due never claims to be found footage. Unless, of course, the being who “found” this footage is some omnipotent presence that compiled footage it found on multiple cameras from multiple angles from multiple sources and conveniently edited it all together. Even though it’s an easy sell, being compared to two other movies shouldn’t take away from the enjoyment of the ride.
Call me old-fashioned but I do NOT think babies should start doing heroin at such a young age.
What really helps sell Devil’s Due is the chemistry between the two leads. They never antagonize any of the things that happen in the film so they don’t really deserve to go through such traumatic events, and you do buy into the fact that Zach is filming stuff just to have happy memories down the line. There was one moment where I thought, “You idiot, you just watched footage that you shot and aren’t going to rewind to see what happened on your honeym–oh, wait, you ARE going to look at the footage.” You never get the sense that the characters are stupid. Going along with the style shown in “10/31/98”, it was really fun to see HUGE scares. No, you don’t stare at the screen wondering whether or not you actually just saw the door move because the door flies off its hinges right at you. The symptoms of the possession were paced well so there was a natural escalation as far as what the characters were going through. The fun is over once the credits start, so I can’t really say the movie was all that scary if I didn’t take any of the scary moments with me, but the ending leaves the movie open for the possibility to go a few different directions. Go see Devil’s Due if you want to see some creative scares in a point-of-view horror movie even if the plot seems to be well-worn territory.
Wolfman Moon Scale