‘Devil’s Due’ Review
A newlywed couple (Allison Miller and ‘Friday Night Lights’ star Zach Gilford) returns home from their honeymoon with an unexpected pregnancy, but as the husband documents their lives, the pair begin to notice that something isn’t quite right with the baby. ‘Devil’s Due‘ is the latest entry in the found footage horror genre, and while it does have its fair amount of creative visual effects, the thrills are hardly thrilling in this paint by numbers occult chiller.
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, the duo also known as Radio Silence, previously left us anxious to see more with their entry in the found footage horror anthology ‘V/H/S,’ which showcased some of their inventive visual effects skills. Sadly, the directorial team’s skills come in a little too late in ‘Devil’s Due,’ which spends too much time building the relationship between Zach and Sam, a newlywed couple whose visit to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon, and one lost, wild night while there, leaves them with an unexpected pregnancy … and then some.
‘Devil’s Due’ treads all-too familiar territory with an obvious play on the horrors of pregnancy and the toll that process takes on a woman both physically and emotionally (babies ruin our bodies and make us crazy!), and the idea that a baby could be the evil that tears couples apart. While Gilford and Miller have undeniable chemistry and their banter is charming enough to be enjoyable on a weekly network television series, the film spends far too much time following them around as Zach insists on filming every aspect of their lives. Once Sam discovers she’s pregnant, this would seem to serve his purposes well, but the film still meanders, punctuated sparingly by an occasional wacky moment (Sam Hulks out and smashes a guy’s car windows, vegetarian Sam stares longingly at and devours raw ground beef in the middle of a supermarket, which is about as silly as you imagine).
While the film is consistent and well-paced, it’s too wrapped up in ensuring we like these people enough to care when the s— hits the fan. First there’s the necessary occult mythology that must be explained by a paternal religious figure, and then there’s the doubtful law enforcement, and oh yes, our protagonist must encounter a cult ritual as well. It’s this formulaic nature and the almost excessive restraint of the directors that makes the well-trodden pregnancy-horror story become actively agitating after a while, especially when you stop to wonder, “Is she really humming the theme to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?” What should be a brisk 89 minutes begins to feel like 120.
Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett don’t unleash the big guns until a little too late in the game, but when they do, it is often delightful. People are tossed with telekinetic power that makes ‘Carrie‘ look even worse than it did a few months ago, and the destructive effects during the climactic final sequence in the couple’s home are pretty fascinating — though not at all terrifying. And yet at the beginning of the climax, you can’t help but feel like someone needs to give these guys the keys to the next ‘Paranormal Activity’ house. But just when they reel you in with interesting effects work, they take it too far and overplay their hand, turning an already busy ending — jumbled enough by a knock-off Go Pro camera — into flat-out cartoon silliness.
‘Devil’s Due’ isn’t entirely terrible, and it still has some fairly entertaining and creative visual gags — enough to make what Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett do next worth checking out.
‘Devil’s Due’ is in theaters now.