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Devil's Due: Film Review

10:41 AM PST 1/17/2014 by Frank Scheck

The Bottom Line

This latest exercise in found-footage horror is less scary than the prospect of watching a friend's home movies.

Directors

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett

Screenwriter

Lindsay Devlin

Cast

Allison Miller, Zach Gilford

A young woman becomes pregnant with the Antichrist in this found-footage horror film.

Arriving a mere week after the most recent entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise is Devil’s Due, yet another found-footage style horror film demonstrating the diminishing artistic returns of the genre. This lackluster exercise -- directed and executive produced by the filmmaking team known as Radio Silence, responsible for one of the episodes in the horror anthology film V/H/S -- could most charitably be described as an homage to Rosemary’s Baby.

The thin storyline concerns young newlywed couple Zach (Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights) and Samantha (Allison Miller), who get more than they bargained for during their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic ending in a night of blackout drinking at a nightspot to which they’re introduced by a too-friendly cabdriver.

VIDEO: Scary Viral Stunt For 'Devil's Due' Freaks Out New Yorkers

Shortly after their return home, Samantha discovers that she’s pregnant, despite having taken the pill regularly. After first, the pregnancy proceeds normally, but it doesn’t take long before the inevitable strange things begin happening. The vegetarian Samantha gobbles down raw meat in a supermarket and viciously punches out the windows of a car that nearly bumped into her; all of the other women at her Lamaze class suffer horrible cramps; the priest at a Communion she’s attending seemingly enters into a trance before bleeding profusely; and she unleashes violent telekinetic powers on a group of hapless teenagers who catch her in the act of gutting a deer.

All of these spooky events prefiguring the apparent birth of the Antichrist are captured, naturally, by a combination of the ever-present video cameras that Zach and others wield. Indeed, Zach is so intent on filming every moment of the couple’s lives, despite Samantha frequent admonitions to stop, that it’s a wonder that the marriage lasts beyond the honeymoon.

The escalating mayhem proves decidedly unscary, not to mention ridden with cliché. Suffice it to say that couples expecting a baby should become suspicious when a strange new obstetrician suddenly appears or their faithful dog begins getting the heebie-jeebies.  

As with most found footage films, there’s a lot of tediousness, with the early proceedings resembling the sort of home movies from which anyone not directly involved would normally flee. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett clearly have the technique down pat, but at this point, fifteen years after The Blair Witch Project, it’s not surprising that the genre serves little purpose other than to dramatically reduce production costs.

Opens Jan. 17 (Twentieth Century Fox)
Production: Davis Entertainment Company
Cast: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Roger Payano, Vanessa Ray, Bill Martin Williams
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillet
Screenwriter: Lindsay Devlin
Producer: John Davis
Executive producers: Chad Villella, Justin Martinez, James Dodson, Brittany Morrissey
Director of photography: Justin Martinez
Editor: Rod Dean
Production designer: Anthony Medina
Costume designer: Ann Walters
Rated R, 89 min.