MPAA (R) CNS/USCCB (O) Fr. Dennis (0 Stars)
IMDb listing -
The Devil Inside (directed and cowritten by William Brant Bell along with Mathew Peterman) is a hard-R movie made in the fake "documentary" style of the Paranormal Activity series only (and perhaps inevitably) adding perennial public fascination with Catholic exorcism to the mix.
To understand the movie's concept, therefore, think of the fake but well crafted Paranormal Activity series mashed with last year's Hollywood produced film The Rite (which starred Anthony Hopkins and was based on a book by the same name about an actual Catholic exorcist). In this movie therefore, one gets to see well staged and (for effect) grainy "amateur" footage of some really bloody crime scenes and well as really sordid (bones cracking, vomit and menstrual blood covered people and objects flying) but ultimately fake exorcism scenes. All that was needed was "amateur 3D" which no doubt, will come in 3-4 years ...
This of course works really well for an audience of young people coming to the film to be entertained by being thrilled (in this case being made "really, really scared") -- the same reason that people pay to "bungie jump" or go to "really scary haunted houses" around Halloween-time or go on roller coaster rides at amusement parks.
As I was watching this film and thinking of its fake though thoroughly sordid terror, I thought of the cave men, who "back in the day" (the stone age...) probably got their thrills going into, well... caves ..., to poke hibernating bears to see if they could wake them up and then would "run like heck" out of the caves before the bear took a swipe at them, mauled them, or even ate them. Entertainment of this kind has probably been with us for a very long, long time...
Beyond the sordidness of the blood (often menstrual blood) and vomit covered contorted bodies splayed about throughout the film, even the more immune Catholic would eventually find offense in the persistent, every 5 minutes or so, criticism of the "official" Catholic Church: that is out of touch, that it wants to "keep these things quiet," "doesn't want to help people" and so forth.
But given that film's the two "rogue" 20-something priests as well as the film's "documentary makers" all come to rather awful ends in this film ... oh dear, I may have "spoiled" the film to some ... the "official Church" may actually come-out looking better than one would have expected. The two "rogue" if certainly sincere priests clearly didn't have a clue of what they were dealing with ...
As such, there is a place for _respect_ and silence. And often (certainly not always...) silence is honestly the most prudent and respectful course to take.
What to say to parents? I don't see any conceivable reason why a teenager would "have to see" this film, and I certainly would not want to be the parent enabling my kids (and/or their friends) to see it. Finally, the film is definitely not in any way, shape or form for pre-teens (it really is a graphic, sordid hard-R of a film).
But if in the end, if your teen finds a way to see this film on his or her own, you can just smile and tell them "You know of course that the movie's a fake" and walk away. Teens generally hate fakes ... ;-)
An interesting exercise could be to go see the film Contraband  released a week after this film and compare it to this one. While not about "demonic possession" per se, Contraband makes the point of just how hard it is for someone to leave a life of crime after one has entered it. Could this be, in effect, a far more subtle yet far more serious form of "demonic possession" than the head-spinning, vomiting spewing variety in which such possession has over the centuries been portrayed?
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