DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.
Devil's Due (2014)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/29/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/28/2014
Unless something's gone horribly wrong or you live in The Twilight Zone, when you sit down to watch a movie, it eventually ends. However, there are those who would argue that a film is never truly complete. This may sound like a bizarre notion, but just think about what we've seen in the way of home video with deleted scenes, alternate cuts and director's cut. It's easy to assume that there are some filmmakers out there who could fiddle with their movie for years, trying to get it just the way that they want it. (I'm looking at you, George Lucas.) Having said that, have you ever watched a movie and felt that it was incomplete? There's nothing worse than having a nagging notion that something was simply missing from a film. That's how I felt after viewing Devil's Due.
Devil's Due opens by introducing us to engaged couple Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller). We witness their wedding and then follow them on their honeymoon to Santo Domingo. There, a cab driver offers to take them somewhere fun and they find themselves at a remote nightclub. After several drinks, Zach and Samantha both pass out, and Zach gets brief glimpses of an environment which looks like catacombs. Hungover, they fly home the next day. Soon after arriving back in the U.S., Samantha discovers that she is pregnant. Zach and his family are delighted (Samantha has no immediate family). However, Samantha soon begins to exhibit some unusual behavior and her nice, quite demeanor starts to change. In addition, Zach notices shadowy figures near their house. What is happening to Allison and what is she doing to the floor in the nursery?
There are many reasons why I can see audiences immediately rejecting Devil's Due. First of all, it's a "found footage" movie. I know that there are many who feel that this style of filmmaking has been played out and they wish that it would go away. Let's face it, it's been 15 years since The Blair Witch Project debuted (and 34 years since Cannibal Holocaust) and the idea is getting stale. Having said that, if someone could bring something new and original to the "found footage" realm, it would be worth noting.
Secondly, I can see people wondering if we really need another "something's wrong with my pregnancy" movie. After all, Ira Levin nailed this in his 1967 novel Rosemary's Baby which was followed by Roman Polanski's perfect film adaptation. Since that time, we've seen this story done time and time again, from low-budget howlers like 1991's The Unborn to the 1990 French gorefest Baby Blood. Is pregnancy a traumatic time which is full of anxiety? Of course it is. Does this make for good material for a horror film? It could, but as with the whole "found footage" thing, it would require a movie which had an inventive idea.
So, we've outlined two things which could potentially go wrong in Devil's Due, and both do occur. This is yet another "found footage" movie where we have to suspend our disbelief as the characters take video of every event in their lives. Sure, it's fine that Zach wants to capture the wedding, the honeymoon, and the first trip to the OB/GYN, but other than that, the movie loses a lot of credibility as we are asked to believe that Zach would record casual conversations with Samantha. The movie tries to fill in blanks by using things like store security footage, but this doesn't help. In the end, most of Devil's Due feels exactly like one of the Paranormal Activity movies.
As for the story, it brings nothing new to the "problem pregnancy" genre. If you've ever seen any other horror movie which deals with this topic, then you've seen everything that Devil's Due has to offer. (How many times have we seen something like the scene in the grocery store?) As for those shadowy figures which Zach keeps glimpsing, they are clearly big fans of the video game Quake II, as they spray paint that game's familiar logo all over the place. The real problem with the script by Lindsay Devlin, and ultimately, the entire film, is that it feels incomplete. This is like the equivalent of reading the first draft of a script -- one would assume that changes would be made and more would added later. The movie only scratches the surface on the overall story (we don't learn much about anything) and events depicted play like a sample reel of what a final film could show. We keep waiting for something complete or fulfilling to happen, but it doesn't. Devil's Due comes from the filmmaking team known as "Radio Silence", who also contributed a chapter toV/H/S. While they do exhibit some visual flair, both their entry into that anthology and Devil's Due prove that they have a lot to learn about telling an actual story. In the end, Devil's Due needed a longer gestation period.
Devil's Due contains one cool scene which feels as if it was taken from another movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. Being a "found footage" movie, we get some of the issues inherent to genre, such as video noise and dark scenes, but those issues have nothing to do with the transfer. The colors look good and the image shows a nice amount of detail. The depth is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Again, "found footage" films contains muffled moments and sounds from the camera and we get that here. But, we also get some very strong subwoofer effects, which really add presence to the film. The surround sound effects are nicely done too, most notably during crowd scenes and the finale. The stereo effects show off good separation.
The Devil's Due Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Matt Bettinell-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, Executive Producer Chad Villella, and Director of Photography Justin Martinez. The Disc contains nine DELETED SCENES which run about 17 minutes. This includes a somewhat different version of the film's finale. "Radio Silence: A Hell of a Team" (12 minutes) is an interview with the filmmakers who discuss their history and offer samples of their early work. "Director's Photo Album" offers 149 stills from the shoot. "Ashes to Ash" (1 minute) is...I don't know...I guess an effect which wasn't used in the film. "The Lost Time" (4 minutes) is sort of like a deleted scene, as it shows another view of the honeymoon from a different set of characters. "Roommate Alien Pranks Goes Bad" (2 minutes) and "Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly" (3 minutes) are two examples of early work from Radio Silence. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long