Directed by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.
Written Lindsay Devlin.
Starring: Allison Miller (Samantha McCall), Zach Gilford (Zach McCall), Sam Anderson (Father Thomas), Roger Payano (Cab Driver), Vanessa Ray (Suzie), Bill Martin Williams (Ken), Geraldine Singer (Sally), Julia Denton (Natalie).
I have seen three found footage horror films in the first six months of 2014. First was Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, which really didn’t do very much for me. The next was Afflicted, was while clichéd in the extreme, at least made me want to see more for its pair of promising directors. Now there’s Devil’s Due – a found footage Rosemary’s Baby, which falls somewhere in between. As with most found footage movies, I couldn’t help but wonder why everything we see was being filmed in the first place (at some point, you’d figure these people would have better things to do than film everything they do) – and even more mystifying, who the hell was editing the tape we are seeing together – as it edits together video from different sources to tell a coherent narrative. But who the hell is editing.
The film was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett, two of four directors who have worked in the past as “Radio Silence” (the other two have different jobs on the movie) – most memorably in the original V/H/S – where they directed the memorable final segment, about a group of young men who think they’re going to a house party and get more than they bargained for. They certainly know what they are doing in the genre, and find some inventive ways to tell what is essentially a clichéd, unoriginal story. In it, Samantha (Allison Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford) get married, and go away on their honeymoon to some tropical location. On their last night, they get into a taxi, whose driver says he knows a fun place to go. They go, and do seem to be having fun, but then something strange (and mainly unseen) happens on the video. Flash forward to the next morning, and the pair is in their hotel and hung-over. It’s not long after they get home that Samantha finds out that she is pregnant – which is odd, because she never misses her pill. But they’re happy anyway. But, of course, something is not right with this baby. And hey, maybe those strange people who have moved into the “abandoned” house in the neighborhood may have something to do with it.
Surprisingly, the movie isn’t overly violent – and doesn’t really rely on gross out horror scenes to terrify the audience. Instead, the directors take their time, and slowly build the tension – slowly show that things aren’t quite right with Samantha, and Zach’s very slow realization of this fact. The movie provides a few too many red herrings on other possible causes – red herrings that don’t fool the audience (the movie is, after all, called Devil’s Due, and opens with a Bible quote about the antichrist).
The movie works better than it really should. It kept me involved until the ending, which is fairly well handled. The directors clearly have talent – talent they already showed in V/H/S. They know how to make a found footage horror film. The film doesn’t really hold up to any close scrutiny, and follows along on its chosen path precisely how you would expect it to. Like the filmmakers of Afflicted, I want to see what these directors do next. Talent is here. But the story is tired, cliché ridden and drawn out even at only 89 minutes. The film is much better than I thought it would be. But that doesn’t mean it’s very good.