The Devil Inside offers adrenaline kick in excess

This faux documentary is a well-executed, if predictable, heart-pounder.

Trite as the "based on true events" shtick may be, fans of horror standards won’t be disappointed. You’ll cringe. You’ll jump. You’ll giggle at least once. A bit of advice for couples: do not hold hands the entire time; after an hour and a half of white-knuckling, someone’s fingers will hurt.

The film opens with a 911 transcript from 1989 in reversed-out, white type. Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), sounding like she’s inhabited by a demonic Stephen Hawking, calls for the police, admitting to killing three people during what is later revealed as an exorcism performed on her.

Flash forward to 2009. Daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) is looking for answers after her father informs her of the circumstances and passes away. With her is Michael (Ionut Grama), a documentary filmmaker with camera in hand. They hook up with Fathers Ben and David (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) at the Catholic Church’s Hogwarts for Exorcists. Official word on Maria’s case is that she is not possesed—the latest medical diagnosis is dissociative identity disorder. But Isabella and co. are not satisfied, seeking to establish proof of dark forces in order to get an exorcism sanctioned by the church. Apparently patience is not a virtue for this crew; for performing an illegal exorcism, the rogue clergymen could face arrest, deportation and excommunication. Remember, possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Take the best parts of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist and sprinkle in some of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Mix well and boil for 87 minutes. Serve in a darkened theater over the suspension of disbelief.

  • A tender moment between mother and daughter: Fernanda Andrade and Suzan Crowley get up close and personal in the Holy psych ward in The Devil Inside.

The Vatican does not want you to see The Devil Inside.

It’s nothing to do with the content, mind you; His Holiness felt the faux-documentary camera work started wearing thin around the 60-minute mark is all.

I reserve a healthy dose of my recommended daily amount of skepticism for any movie that holds a critics’ screening only the night before nation-wide release. It always feels like someone is hedging against a flop and doesn’t want bad press to ruin opening weekend's take. Nevertheless, I did my best to push this preconception far down with my inner demons and give The Devil Inside a fair shake.These efforts were rewarded with a pleasant surprise: a brisk, enjoyable heart-pounder that’s well-executed, if predictable at times.

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