This is a silly and derivative film, with Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Cloverfield being obvious touch points from which no advance is made. The general idea was, it seems, to take Rosemary’s Baby, suck all the emotional content, the suspense, tension and suggestion out of the story, lose the script in favour of small talk (the amateur cameraman, in an attempt to provide mystery, has only to master the lines “huh?” and “hey! You don’t look so good!”) and hold the camera at knee-height in an attempt at found footage. Except in this movie the cameraman’s found footage is stolen, so how we end up seeing it is one of the films’ few mysteries. Others do not come back – if there’s something to be said for this film it’s that its slip-ups aren’t memorable. What is memorable is memorable by cheating; we tend to remember it from another movie.
Everything in this film is predictable. Early on we see a circular sign – it is revealed, not too long later, to be a Satanic symbol. In the soon-to-be-newborn’s room, there’s a circular carpet. Mother is heard scratching – it almost sounds like carving – the floor in the room. We held our breath. At the viewing we were asked beforehand not to reveal plot details – a scoff did the rounds of the theatre. The whole movie was predictable beforehand; Devil’s Due posters should carry a sign reading “spoiler alert!”
Horror films have a heartbeat: pulses of shock, building to a climax – see The Shining for an obvious example. As the story develops it gets faster and faster and then you scream. This film deploys its pulses like absent minded CPR. The result is a prolonged cardiac arrest – or hiccups.
This is the first antichrist film with a sonogram. Typically the antichrist turns out to be a boy – but in this film, we are left uncertain. “He’s turned over”, the doctor explains. Actually, at seven weeks along (the film was very precise) you can’t tell the sex of the baby anyway. The doctor is not a real doctor, so this is explainable, but we only find that out right before the end when his character’s not relevant (not that he ever was) so it doesn’t explain anything. Why is this scene here? We are left uncertain. As the writer might put it, it’s all part of the mystery of creation.
By the way, that prank baby in New York is not even in the film. Spoiler. Alert.
Devil’s Due is released nationwide on 17th January 2014.
Watch the trailer for Devil’s Due here: