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REVIEW: Devil's Due
1:10pm Thursday 16th January 2014 in Leisure News
Devil's Due (15)
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Aimee Carrero, Donna Duplantier, DeMaris Gordon.
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett.
Released: January 16 (UK & Ireland)
THINGS go bump in the womb as well as the night in Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's laboured found-footage horror.
Devil's Due is the unholy union of Paranormal Activity and Rosemary's Baby - Prenatal Activity, if you will - which employs video camera footage and CCTV recordings to chart the nightmarish experiences of two first-time parents, whose unborn child is the seed of Beelzebub.
A passage from the Bible, which foretells the coming of the antichrist, opens the film and is repeated by a crazed priest as the doomed mother-to-be approaches full term.
Screenwriter Lindsay Devlin breastfeeds her thinly sketched characters clunky dialogue. She also glosses over gaping plot holes, not least the lost final night of the couple's honeymoon, which results in Satan impregnating the blushing bride in a cave laden with ancient runes.
The newlywed's video camera captures this demonic intervention yet the couple don't review the footage or proudly screen the video for relatives, which would tip the wink about the conception from hell.
Zach McCall (Zach Gilford) has grown up in a family that records every important event on camera so on the eve of his wedding to sweetheart Samantha (Allison Miller), he begins a video diary.
Following a perfect wedding, Zach and Sam jet off to sun-drenched Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where a psychic (DeMaris Gordon) reads the bride's palm and proclaims, "No family, no past. You were born from death!".
Zach handily fills in that plot hole with a throwaway line of expository dialogue: "Her parents were killed in a car crash - Sam was cut out of the womb."
Returning home to American suburbia, Sam discovers she is pregnant, which is curious since she has been diligently taking the pill.
Zach excitedly records the next nine months and notices changes in his wife's behaviour.
At first, he forgives her fits and outbursts as the nerves of an expectant mother but as the weeks pass and Sam's mood darkens, Zach realises that something is dreadfully wrong.
Devil's Due delivers shocks that will be disappointingly familiar to fans of the Paranormal Activity saga.
Directors Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett engineer a couple of neat sequences like the demise of three teenagers, who stumble upon demonically possessed Sam in the woods.
For the most part, though, they embrace second-hand stylistic conceits including a game of hide and seek played through the lens of the camera in night-vision mode.
Miller and Gilford are solid in roles that demand very little of them. Their characters ignore warning signs until it is too late, like piles of ash around the home, the disappearance of a friendly obstetrician (Donna Duplantier) and strange figures lurking in the street.
When the bridegroom tells his beloved tenderly, "I promise, I will always protect you, keep you safe," he might as well start digging them both shallow graves in the backyard.