Originally released in 2014, Devil’s Due (nice pun, yes?) is the first full-length movie by Radio Silence, a quartet of young filmmakers who made their initial reputation by making short films that mix dark humor and horror. Short found-footage films like “Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly” led the quartet to direct the final segment in the horror anthology V/H/S. Not surprisingly then, Devil’s Due is a found-footage film, one that mixes elements of dark humor with outrageous horror.
The movie’s plot is easy to summarize. A newlywed couple travel to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon. Things begin to go awry when Samantha (Allision Miller) and Zach (Zach Gilford) visit a palm reader, who ominously tells Sam that “they have been waiting for her.” The “they” turn out to be a satanic cult whose purpose is to bring forth the antichrist by impregnating as many women as possible. Sam undergoes a satanic ritual, where it is implied that she is mated to Lucifer. The remainder of the film uses a variety of cameras to show the slow decay of Sam, both in her personality and her frail physical demeanor, until at length she begins to exhibit extraordinary supernatural powers, which she turns on Zach. As the birth grows near, Zach uncovers the nature of the cult, but it may be already too late, as the cult members are everywhere and it turns out could be anyone, from a taxi driver to a prominent physician.
Riffing off a screenplay by Lindsay Devlin, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett apply the structure of Paranormal Activity while paying homage to Rosemary’s Baby. And although some have called Devil’s Due a rip-off of such films, careful viewers will find that the directors have actually created a film that is wry, sly, and darkly humorous. Yes, Devil’s Due does take its key plot points from Rosemary’s Baby, but the film expands on such concepts, particularly by making the cult much more menacing and ethereal and by making their “Rosemary” a much more hideous threat. Yes, Devil’s Due uses facets of Paranormal Activity, but once again the filmmakers take some scenes even further, particularly during the movie’s extended climax.
With respect to the found-footage genre, Devil’s Due represents a slight evolution in the genre. Although the conceits associated with the genre remain for the most part, Devil’s Due is an attempt to transcend such conceits. Thus, multiple cameras are used throughout, in effect chronicling the film through various points of view. The editing of such a variety of pieces leads to a stylized approach that deviates from conventional found-footage films. For me, this approach worked well, but I would have rather had the story told through a more conventional approach, as the underlying plot elements are strong enough for such treatment.
As a whole, Devil’s Due is a pretty good horror flick, if it is given a chance. The story may have been told many times before, and in the case of Rosemary’s Baby definitely told better, but hardcore horror fans may enjoy the homage, as well as the deviations from said homage throughout the movie. The cast is good throughout, with both leads essaying relatively complex characters who go through extraordinary circumstances. Allision Miller particularly deserves a shout-out, as her subtle performance during the bulk of the film and her hideous transformation at the film’s climax will definitely give even the jaded a sense of the creeps.
On the downside, the filmmakers do tend to rely on the usual horror trappings during some sequences. Such scenes will make veteran horror aficionados cringe—this is especially true because the film does offer some really good and fresh ideas. The movie’s ending is not too unexpected but is typical of the “it ain’t over” that so many horror films have relied on in the past.
The Blu-Ray edition of Devil’s Due DVD comes with some good extras, including the early Youtube videos made by Radio Silence, a filmmaker commentary (a bit too lax for me, but there are some good moments), and deleted/extended scenes.