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MOVIE REVIEW

The Devil Inside

Spiriting away the dollars of moviegoing souls

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By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / January 7, 2012
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“The Devil Inside’’ usefully reminds us how little it takes to make some people scream in a crowded movie theater. Just cut to a shot of a priest standing in a corner looking like a zombie, or to a woman’s body folding itself backward in half.

The movie also reminds us how little it takes to crack up an audience - occasionally at the same shots that made it jump.

The other night, some of us were with the “The Devil Inside,’’ which opened Friday without a critics screening. There we were jumping and laughing at parts of this year’s first stupid exorcism horror show, which is also this year’s first fake documentary meant to make the stupid horror show seem real.

No one onscreen was actor enough to make us believe we were watching actual people commit or require actual exorcisms. Not Suzan Crowley, who plays a woman who, years ago, killed three people. Not Fernanda Andrade, who plays that woman’s pert daughter. Not Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth, who play the priests the daughter finds in Vatican City near where the mother is locked up in a psych ward. And certainly not Ionut Grama, who plays the documentary director whose cameras film every dull car ride and digitally enhanced scramble up a wall.

But we put up with their intensifying bad-actorliness. We tolerated the poorly typed dialogue, spattered menstrual blood, and incoherent editing and hand-held camerawork because, in spite of ourselves, we wanted to know how this would end. We wanted to see the director, William Brent Bell, and his co-writer and coproducer, Matthew Peterman, prove that they know what their movie is even about. Instead, we got a prompt to visit a website to find out more. People who had been jumping and laughing booed.

Paramount bought this movie for less than a million dollars. It spent a little more money to market it, meaning it could open for one weekend and vanish forever and still be profitable. We can boo all we want. All Paramount will hear is “ka-ching.’’

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @wesley_morris.

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NO STARS

THE DEVIL INSIDE

Directed by: William Brent Bell

Written by: Bell and Matthew Peterman

Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, and Suzan Crowley

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 88 minutes

Rated: R (violent content, grisly images, and language, including some uncouth sexual references)

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