Oh man now I’m really getting sick of Found Footage Movies. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but every other horror movie nowadays seems to be a FMM. We’re a mere two weeks into 2014 and both horror cinema releases have been of the home movie/shit camera work variety. It’s got to the point where I’m looking forward to seeing I, Frankenstein from the makers of the Underworld films for God’s sake.
Anyway, Devil’s Due is a found footage version of Rosemary’s Baby, which is what we all need because that story really needs to be told again. The twist, if you can call it that, is that the husband isn’t John Cassavetes, so isn’t part of the pregnancy conspiracy. Oh, and the mother has super powers. This has become law of late: the main protagonist has to have super powers in FFMs so this girl dutifully follows suit. Sure, she’s the mother of Satan so she needs to protect him, but she mainly seems to have powers to liven up the story, because otherwise this would just be a film about a difficult pregnancy. And that might be a little dull.
Things start off, as all FFms start, with little of note, other than people explaining why they are recording everything in the first place. Zach and Sam are the cute and likable couple (sweetly played by Zach Gilford and Allison Miller) who jet off to some honeymoon hell hole (i.e. anywhere outside the United States) where they foolishly get led to some crazy underground party and drink one jungle-juice too many.
Not remembering anything that happened the night before, they soon find their normal life is interrupted by Sam’s pregnancy. This is particularly unexpected as she’s on the pill and not relying on the far safer pull-out method. But they are young and happy and foolish enough to think, hell why not keep it? We only wanted a few weeks of married happiness before our lives are taken over by an unwanted baby. I mean a devil baby.
I think I have a problem with the whole antichrist movie sub-genre. They seem to be mostly concerned with the lead up to the birth and not what happens after. Surely that’s where the good stuff is. Up until then it’s just weird neighbours taking too much interest in your future. I want to SEE the devil child taking over the world. Sure we’ve had The Omen movies but they were all about waiting around to do some serious world destroying, rather than just getting on with it. I want a devil baby out, about and doing its evil devil baby thing. I suppose the trouble with that would be that no one would be able to take the movie very seriously, because at best we would have something like this:
Which now I look at it is just plain stupid. (Demons 2 if you must now)
The one good thing about the FFM is that the filmmaker is pretty much forced into making a serious movie. The very realism it achieves lends itself well to serious horror. You couldn’t make a found footage American Werewolf in London (don’t get any ideas Hollywood). And Devil’s Due is a pretty serious production. Satanists are often a rather goofy bunch, but with all the darting camera work and clever backlighting, they are rarely seen as anything more than silhouettes watching the events unfold (and having a little demonic sing-song to keep their spirits up).
The directors work hard to keep the format fresh. There’s the usual security cameras, but also some other hidden ones and Zach gets a mini camera he can pin to his shirt, which comes in very useful later on when it really would be weird for him to be carrying a normal camera about. Also there’s a lovely little side section with a bunch of teenagers making a hideous discovery in the forest. In fact it’s a shame there aren’t more of these little mini movies within the main movie. They add a welcome change to the central protagonist’s point of view and help show how the outside world is affected by the unfolding events.
There are some very solid horror scares in here. The early stuff on the honeymoon is particularly tense, even when nothing is happening you can feel the impending horror closing in on our hapless couple. Later scenes, with some of protective mother-to-be Sam’s weird behaviour is quite fun, especially the kid’s reaction to her at the meat counter in the local supermarket. Then there’s Zach’s creeping around a neighbour’s old dark house, nothing new but effective none-the-less. Also, (KIND OF SPOILER, BUT NOT REALLY) and miracle of miracles, the film doesn’t do the worst crime of all FFMs: it doesn’t end with the camera falling over while someone screams and is dragged away.
I do have one big problem with the end though (SPOILER IF YOU’RE GOING TO SEE THIS). The film starts and ends with Zach being interviewed by the police, they are blaming him for whatever might have just happened to his wife and baby. The rozzers say that the neighbour’s house is deserted and there’s no evidence that his story is true. We leave Zach with the impression that they will find him guilty of murder, like the stupid sap he is. But hang on a minute there. We’re watching a found footage movie here. We’ve just seen all the evidence we need. He was wearing a hidden camera for love of Beelzebub. Isn’t that all the evidence you need? Maybe, the Satanists nicked it, but I didn’t see that happen. The whole Found-Footage-ness of this film is falling apart at the seams!
Anyway, there you go. Two found footage movies into the New Year and, while well made, we’re not exactly on new territory here. This story has been told before, certainly better and this filming technique isn’t adding anything amazing to it. Can we stop with the FFM now please? What must we have next? The found footage slasher movie? What’s that you say? They’re making a new Friday the 13th, but with found footage? Just kill me now… but make sure you film it.