Even Satan, the root of all evil, Lord of Lies, the great tempter, enemy of all things holy, must be embarrassed by his association with "Devil's Due". In the last half-century or so, he's hardly been shy about appearing in horror movies, or planting his seed within fictional women to birth the Antichrist. The Devil has to be proud of his portrayal in the 1968 Roman Polanski film, "Rosemary's Baby", a brilliant classic of the horror genre that focused on character development, feminine fears of childbirth, and the more universe phobia of elderly Jewish neighbors. "Devil's Due" in contrast takes that same storyline, and removes everything that was interesting, creepy, or disturbing. Then somehow it even loses interest in its own storyline and concept, and for the last half of the movie transforms into a clone of the Paranormal Activity movies. So now in January we get to have two of those. Trust me, unless you've committed some terrible betrayal upon your loved ones in the past and are looking for some kind of metaphysical punishment to inflict upon yourself, you will want to see "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" over this.
Now you might accuse me of hating "Devil's Due" simply because I think its a rip-off of "Rosemary's Baby". But if there never had been a "Rosemary's Baby" and this was an entirely original plotline, "Devil's Due" would suck. If this was the first film ever made, it would suck. Imagine that, coming into a movie theater as a tabula rasa, never knowing that pictures could move. You are open to all kinds of wonder, and now are seeing a wondrous modern technology for the first time. And then the movie you see is "Devil's Due". Even in that scenario, this movie would suck. For all eternity, no matter what happens, "Devil's Due" will be terrible.
So far January 2014 has not been a great month for movies. Its a typical January, Hollywood has been dumping its most mediocre and unsalvageable flops on the unsuspecting public, knowing their only competition will be movies somehow even worse. But what January 2014 does is give me the chance to finally explain all the many degrees and subtleties within bad movies.
Let's start at the top: "Her" was a well-meaning, almost well-executed movie ruined by weak characterization and melancholic filmography, a lot of people might even be fooled into thinking its good. Its a real artistic statement that did not manage to work. Moving down we have the more cynical releases. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" was a movie designed not to say anything at all, just to entertain audiences. But it was done without any creativity or flair, it was just utterly boring in every way. If done well, "Jack Ryan" could have been "Iron Man 3", but it wasn't. It was "Jack Ryan". Further down are the movies so terrible and idiotic that they become fun, the entertainment value comes from schadenfreude against the filmmakers. Perfect example is "The Legend of Hercules".
Then at the very bottom is "Devil's Due". Its has nothing to say, its not legitimately entertaining, its not original, its not even so bad it becomes hilarious. It is awful in every way. Women say that childbirth is the worst pain in all of life**, so maybe "Devil's Due"'s agonizing experience is appropriate. Really, you shouldn't bother seeing any January movies at all, but if you need a movie not to see this winter, "Devil's Due" is it.
Lady, trust me. You might think you're in pain now,
but it hurts way worse over here in the audience.
The plot is an ill-conceived miscarriage, mostly ruined by the limitations of a found-footage horror movie. The only reason why this newly married couple is filming every moment of their lives is because the incredibly boring husband character is trying to make home movies for his children. This means that this is like a movie directed by your dad, with everybody over-acting in an extremely forced manner, trying too hard to look like they're having fun. Legitimately these two characters are way too happy, it isn't even until halfway through the movie that it even tries to build some real character tension. The wife - when badly infected by Satan - eventually decides that she never wanted a child, this is ruining her academic career, and her husband is forcing all the housewife responsibility upon her. Which is a really interesting character dynamic, only brought into the movie way too late, after we've seen this couple do a perfect impression of blocks of wood for most of the story already. And it doesn't even matter after that one scene, because the rest of movie the wife is possessed by the Dark Lord and the husband is possessed by the far more malevolent spirit of bad screenwriting.
This is one of those especially insipid found-footage movies in which the characters never think to watch their own camera footage. During the couple's own honeymoon, they get kidnapped by evil Latino*** Satan-worshipers. But the Satanists keep the camera rolling, to the point you even see Satan waking up in one scene. Of course, nobody actually goes back and views this footage for nearly an hour, when you'd think that in 2014 their first instinct would be to start sharing videos and photos on Facebook. By the way, how many likes would a Selfy of you hanging out with Lucifer in Santa Domingo get you? Much later, we see the wife's chest explode outward when the baby gives a mighty impossible kick, and nobody ever notices. Its almost as bad as "Paranormal Activity 4".
I felt the same way last time I ate at Long John Silver's.
The other deal here is that this found-footage movie isn't really made out of a single body of footage. Unless of course this is a record made by the evil Latino Satanists. Occasionally we'll flip over to security camera footage, or other camera sources during a wedding. Halfway through the movie, when the filmmakers decided that all found footage movies had to be Paranormal Activity, the Satan-worshipers secretly install hidden cameras inside the house. Much later when the wife has developed psychic powers - that of course look exactly the same as the signature Paranormal Activity push thing - she murders three hikers in the woods, who of course film it all, and somehow this found-footage is never found by anybody.
A bigger problem though is that the movie is just not scary. The movie opens with a ten minute long fake-out jump scare where the husband sneaks into his own house for no reason, only to fool the audience into think he is Michael Myers. The Satanic horde stand around on street corners, not moving. Again, a rip-off of all the witches in Paranormal Activity. And really, what is scary about two guys standing in the street? You don't get much of a sense of evolving body horror as in "Rosemary's Baby", the wife never loses weight, there's no sense or paranoia, there's nothing. At the end of the movie when the Dominicans steal the baby and he or she looks completely normal. Maybe we could have gotten a killer baby climax at the end, just for some cheesy fun? Nope. The marketing guys seemed to know how to make a better movie than the filmmakers, as seen in this hilarious viral marketing campaign.
What does it say when an advertising prank is scarier than your own whole damn movie?
It says you've made "Devil's Due". It is terrible in every way. If aliens were to visit us and were honestly curious about our civilization and sharing our cultures and knowledge, make sure they never see "Devil's Due". Several of their kind might not even make it out of the theater alive, their brains might explode "Mar's Attack"-style. Then the survivors would declare interstellar jihad upon humanity in order to cleanse the universe of our cancerous minds. Having seen this movie myself, all I can do tonight is stare upward at the stars, pleading silently for the oblivion that our species so much deserves.
* Maybe they were making a sophisticated Christian moralistic argument about how greed, as symbolized by one of the largest currencies in the world, is the root of all evil. Jesus himself hated the rich, his entire ministry was about how "the first will be last" ......No, they just fucked up.
** Besides kidney stones.
Oh, and "Green Lantern".
*** I am really starting to wonder about the preponderance of Latin Americans in horror movies lately. Typically they are shown as mystical savages, able to link in with the spirit world in ways that the White protagonists cannot. "Devil's Due" is probably worse than the rest, because at least following that earlier lazy quasi-racist trope is better than the trope of "evil dark-skinned people will kidnap and rape you". "Oh no, they're sacrificing America's blond virgins to their big-dicked heathen gods!!!" I don't think the filmmakers here were being offensive on purpose, they are morons as we've proven again and again, but it does mean this movie is stunningly awful on many levels. Its not just bad in a blunt sense, it has a sophistication of badness.