Devil’s Due

(SFX Magazine, Future Publishing)

You’re reading SFX, which means you’re almost certainly not the target audience for Devil’s Due. This fright film is aimed at teenagers – particularly teenage girls – who haven’t seen many horror pictures, who are too young for Frightfest, and who’ve probably never heard of Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen. It’s also for viewers who don’t regard the “found footage” format as the most terminally clapped-out genre since the Richard Curtis romcom. Judged purely for newbies, Devil’s Due isn’t so bad, except for an “Is that it?” ending that brings the ghost-train to a whimpering halt.

So, there are these two newly-weds (Allison Miller and Zach Gilford) on a honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. The husband films everything because, well, he does (and he plainly hasn’t seen any found-footage horror movies himself). They get lost late at night, and a friendly taxi driver takes the couple to a happening underground party. The night’s end is a blank for them and us, though we do get some glimpses of a weird ritual. Back at home, the wife finds she’s pregnant, overjoying them both, but…

Yes, it’s that story, with pretty much no effort to disguise or revamp it. As far as originality goes, it’s a formula product on a level with Friday the 13th Part 8. The most notable thing about Devil’s Due is its emphasis on the agonies of pregnancy, all the pains and swellings and mood-swings and vomitings, racked up rather efficiently. There’s a good moment in a supermarket where the heroine discovers some strange appetites, and some of her eruptions into maniacal fury are creepier because they might be “ordinary” madness. It’s a pity the couple aren’t likable; their early goofing around is so toe-curling that you grit your teeth and will them to start screaming.

The found-footage format, with lots of scenes in darkened nighttime houses, recalls the Paranormal Activitys, though one effective but brief vignette takes us into Chronicle territory. The climax serves up lots of dark figures standing silently in the night like so many spooky doorposts, a bit like the phantoms in The Fog. The finale is tolerably lively – frantic runarounds, shattering walls – but the end goes nowhere; a shame, as the last-minute reveal could have been the basis of a more interesting film.