It’s no wonder the found footage horror genre gets a bad name with films like Devil’s Due out there for the unsuspecting viewer to endure. Daniel Stephens tries to cast out the Devil…
It’s films like Devil’s Due that give found footage horror a bad name. It’s little wonder the cinephile recoils as if drowning in bad milk when the mere mention of the genre crops up. It’s totally unfair of course as many scary movies have utilised the concept superbly well but too often the cheapness of its production is conveyed onscreen, not simply through the device of self-documenting, but through the inept contribution of so-called filmmakers.
Devil’s Due can consider itself one of the very worst. Cobbled together by directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (yes, incredibly, it took two people to make this mess), the film self-styles itself as Rosemary’s Baby meets Paranormal Activity but evokes only memories of a bad trip to the toilet after a dodgy meal.
Written by first-time writer Lindsay Devlin and brought to the screen by a pair of filmmakers whose experience appears to be dominated by every role in a short film’s crew, Devil’s Due is an archaic relic not just of found footage horror but of horror film as a whole. It picks and chooses a variety of plot clichés and hangs them on a well-worn narrative paved with useless false jumps and a conclusion as stupid as its main two characters.
The premise, if you care to hear it, tells the story of newlywed couple Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha McCall (Allison Miller) who honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. When they inexplicably get lost, they foolishly accept the invitation of a taxi driver to go to an underground rave where they both pass out drunk. We are witness to Sam unknowingly experiencing a ritual that presumably impregnates her as the overtly secretive but unconscionably dumb cult use Zach’s camera to film their deed. Of course, Zach is only privy to this footage when the story needs a dramatic kick up the arse.
Returning home, the couple discover that they are pregnant despite Sam being on the contraceptive pill and, as you’d expect, things start going bump in the night. But none of this matters because we have no sympathy for the protagonists. This affluent, clean-cut couple have seemingly everything they could ever wish for – money, a home, friends and family who dote on them, and even the appearance of charm – but how they’ve achieved any financial success is beyond me given how absolutely clueless they are. Whether it’s midnight raves in foreign countries with strangers or their total ignorance to competent medical care, I find myself in that unenviable position of hoping they meet a ghastly end.
Even typical found footage horror scares are few and far between, the film relying too heavily on red herrings, while the artificiality of self-documenting drama rears its ugly head to rip away any emotional involvement we might have. It’s an insult to Rosemary’s Baby and Paranormal Activity that the film dares to liken itself to them. Derivative, lacking in scares and painfully dull, Devil’s Due makes me angry that I wasted time watching this rubbish.