A brief caveat: I had high hopes for DEVIL’S DUE. The feature length debut of Radio Silence, the filmmaking collective that literally brought the house down in V/H/S‘ final segment, was without a doubt something to look forward to. Giving them a modest budget, studio backing, and reign to make an R-rated satanic baby film sounded like a win-win for everyone. My expectations seem a bit foolish now, because on its own DEVIL’S DUE is extremely underwhelming. It figuratively crawls through its runtime before turning what should have been an outrageous finale, into a rushed job that seems more interested in setting up a sequel than rewarding your patience.
Newlywed couple. Foreign locale. Lead male wants to film everything for posterity. You know the drill here, folks. Through personal recordings (found footage, POV, what have you), we follow Zach and Samantha through nuptials to honeymoon, where what should have been a night of partying leads to a satanic ritual that neither recall. Upon returning stateside, Samantha discovers she is with child, and the couple happily embrace the soon-to-be-new addition to their family. As the trimesters progress, strange occurrences and Samantha’s increasingly erratic behavior lead Zach to believe she may be host to the antichrist’s coming.
Like any film that rightfully wants you invested in its characters, DEVIL’S DUE starts nice and slow. You absolutely buy that leads Zach Gilford and Allison Miller are in love, and getting to know them is far from torture. In a genre filled with largely unlikeable characters and unnecessary prologues, moments like these feel rewarding. With that said, it is a total shame that film fails to deliver in any other department. DEVIL’S DUE is filled with the same old repetitive parlor tricks we’ve all now grown accustomed to. People being lifted and thrown, distorted faces, demonic screaming; it’s boring, it’s tired, it’s been there and done that. A cheap jumpcut scare might land an intended jolt or two, but it’s almost embarrassing how devoid DEVIL’S DUE is of any legitimate scares or tension.
I cannot stress enough how much promise Radio Silence has shown. From their humble YouTube beginnings, to what I believe is arguably the best short from either V/H/S films with 10/31/98, the group’s feature film debut should have been nothing short of a home run. DEVIL’S DUE is anything but. Nothing more than an exercise in tedium, this is another sign that the use of found footage as a storytelling tool is teetering past exhaustion. I thought the above-average quality of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES signaled that maybe this January could be elevated past “studio dump month”, but with I, FRANKENSTEIN on the way and now DEVIL’S DUE, it doesn’t look like that stigma will be lifted anytime soon..