The derivative shock-schlock wagon continues to roll on with the dull and unimaginative frightfest ‘Devil’s Due’, a monotonous hybrid of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ slammed together in ugly unison. With the exception of an elite few standout goosebump gems that managed to offer the eerie goods in the genre of horror in the last decade ‘Devil’s Due’ continues the tepid tradition of regurgitating the same copycat creepiness without any consideration for originality or distinctive decadence.
Tediously labored, flat, predictable and lacking in titillating freshness, ‘Devil’s Due’ is a scattershot mess that never thrives to take its audience on a legitimate rousing ride with its brand of recycled and cliché-ridden scares. Conveniently, this hammy horror show resorts to the overused gimmick plaguing many frightening fare today…incorporating the arbitrary usage of found footage thrown in for lazy-minded good measure. It is a cheap and desperate tactic that never elevates this pedantic hair-raising horror heap beyond its stilted mediocrity.
Co-directors Matt Bettinelli and Tyler Gillett, no strangers to delivering the sordid and grainy edge-of-your-seat shenanigans, as witnessed in their previous convoluted but more superior 2012’ horror flick ‘V/H/S’, go through the considerable motions of force feeding this vapid vehicle that methodically rips off everything from ‘The Omen’ to ‘The Blair Witch Projec’t. Basically, ‘Devil’s Due’ is a mundane and hollow bore that simply cannot overcome its sluggish limitations. The startling theme of impregnated women unassumingly carrying a satanic seed inside them has been revisiting so many times to the point of eye-rolling ridiculousness. However, ‘Devil’s Due’ does not help the cause any by tainting this premise with its dismissive trivial take.
Former foster child Samantha (Allison Miller) is very enthusiastic about her upcoming marriage to Zach McCall (Zach Gilford). In fact, after the couple finally gets hitched they feel the need to videotape the progression of their existences in the name of starting ‘a family tradition’. Soon the young lovebirds travel to Santa Domingo for their honeymoon. Both Samantha and Zach are offered a ‘good time’ and visit a local hot spot where they drugged after downing one shot too many. Mysteriously, the marrieds are now back at their hotel room not knowing or remembering how they got back after their serious blackout.
It is not long before Samantha discovers her pregnancy months later. It is indeed a heralded occasion for the McCalls to celebrate this wonderful revelation. It is a matter of time before poor Samantha starts to experience some deeply disturbing symptoms during her pregnancy that causes some understandable concerns for a weary Zach. The abnormality of Samantha’s erratic behavior consists of freakish bouts of strength, convincing mood swings, meat-craving tendencies and occult leanings as incredulously discovered in the nursery.
Zach, after noticing such ominous trends in Samantha as well as the distressing occurrences around the household, comes to the chaotic conclusion that his precious wife may in fact be playing motherly host to the Anti-Christ. Just how maddening is it for the McCalls to not recall their wild leisurely honeymoon moments in Santa Domingo that could possibly explain the diapered devil that is due to wreak some inevitable havoc on the once proud parents?
The disconnection behind ‘Devil’s Due’ is as apparent as it is appalling. True, characterisation development in horror movies are not usually stressed because periled people are sacrificial lambs for the sake of the nature of the aimless debauchery. Still, one need to invest some emotional energy on someone such as an innocent pregnant mother yet there is no urge to do so because the vulnerable married couple is so bland and distant. In fact, you are left rooting for this demon child to spring out and stir up some colorful mayhem to give these milquetoast mopers some animated definition.
In addition, ‘Devil’s Due’ is cluttered with wooden acting, spotty scripting, uninspired scenes of tension-filled twitchiness and soggy cinematography that simply adds to the drudging drama mechanically unfolding. The nonsensical inclusion of the aforementioned found footage is not the featured fodder that Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett thought would give this knuckleheaded nightmare its hedonistic heft. Instead, it is merely a distraction and never uplifts or fuels the cautionary confines of voyeurism especially in a manic movie where videotape and violence could still be an innovative, compelling and off-kilter concoction. Sadly, ‘Devil’s Due’ does not have the depth or delicious deviousness to sell this knee-jerking dud as anything but a colorless creepfest.
Under-achieving horror films are in the majority and it is not without ignorance to realise that there is an obvious appreciation for these toothless thrillers to have their share of indiscriminate admirers. For every developed squealing showcase such as the pointless ‘Devil’s Due’ the anticipation of coming across a sophisticated and sound horror-filled hopeful is still something worth demonstrating some patience at the box office.
Devil’s Due (2014)
20th Century Fox
1 hr. 29 mins.
Starring: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Roger Payano and Vanessa Ray
Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
MPAA Rating: R
Critic’s rating: * ½ stars (out of 4 stars)