Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and produced by Chad Villella and Justin Martinez (the four guys who make up the ‘Radio Silence' filmmaking team), 2014's Devil's Due introduces us to Zach McCall (Zach Gilford) and his fiancé Samantha (Allison Miller) just before their wedding. Zach is filming her because even though he remembers how corny it was that his dad wandered around with a camcorder in the eighties, he wants to document their new life together. The ceremony goes off without a hitch and off the happy newlyweds go for a honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. They check out some sights, ride a zip line and then, on their last night, Samantha gets her palm read. This goes bad quickly and they leave only to wander into a bad part of town. Thankfully a friendly cabbie picks them up and while Samantha just wants to go back to the hotel, the driver talks them into going out for one last drink ‘somewhere special.' He takes them to an underground party where they drink and dance and live it up. It's too bad then that neither of them remember Samantha getting pulled into a back room and tossed on the floor to be unwittingly involved in some sort of occult ceremony.
They head back to the states and before you know it, Samantha has revealed to Zach that she's pregnant. They're happy about it and announce the news to their family and friends but soon after their first visit with the doctor, Samantha starts to change. At first she's just a bit moody but then when coming out of a baby outlet store and almost getting hit by a car, she flips out and punches through three windshields. They head back to the doctor's office only to find that their first doctor has been puzzlingly replaced with a new one, Doctor Dylan (Robert Aberdeen). He seems nice enough but asks Zach about Samantha's family history, of which they know very little. As the story progresses and Samantha gets closer to her due date, her strange and increasingly behavior becomes more and more of a problem. When Zach discovers some footage from their honeymoon shot that night at the underground party, he starts to put together the pieces of the puzzle: the strange symbols he's noticed, the ash that keeps appearing around their home and the men who appear in the dark and appear to be watching them. All of this comes to a head at a communion service held for Zach's niece in the same church where they were married when Samantha talks to Father Thomas (Sam Anderson). Zach realizes that something is very wrong with his wife and maybe with their unborn child too…
While the performances here are pretty decent and the concept a good one (if overdone in that it's quite similar to Rosemary's Baby in more ways than one), you've really got to suspend your disbelief when it comes to the way that the movie is shot. While the story does at least take the time to set up a plausible reason for Zach to be filming as much as he does, there are moments here where you'll find yourself yelling at the movie telling him to ‘put down the camera!' Seriously… it's running while he's having a fairly intense discussion with the doctor about his wife's mysterious past and it's running while he's running away from killer cultists and it's even running when he's driving with both hands on the wheel (meaning that he put a helmet-cam on before he went exploring). If you pay any attention to this sort of thing at all it's bound to bug you. In the film's defense, it doesn't setup this as true ‘found footage' because it actually pulls not just from Zach's home movies but from security cameras in various locations as well as surveillance cameras clandestinely placed in the couple's own home. This allows us to see both characters on screen and for the narrative to unfold in a fairly straight forward way while at the same time attempting to ground the picture in a reality of sorts.
The movie goes at a good pace, however, and while it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression it does offer a few fun superficial scares, particularly towards the end. There's some CGI and effects work featured in the movie that is obviously just that but once this picks up (it takes about forty minutes to really start moving) it's okay. Not great, obviously imperfect and derivative of Polanski's superior film but entertaining enough.The Blu-ray:
Devil's Due arrives on Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. So yeah, it's a ‘found footage' movie so it's intentionally made to look like it has all been captured with either security cameras, a handheld video camera or a helmet mounted ‘Go-Pro' style adventure cam. On that level, the transfer is fine. If you don't mind the shaky-cam thing, this is a pretty strong image. Detail is good when the camera isn't moving too quickly and colors are reproduced quite nicely. Black levels are good and there are no issues with any obvious compression artifacts or edge enhancement to note. Detail in faces is strong, you'll notice this a lot as Samantha's condition begins to change, and shadow detail is pretty solid too. You get the impression that the movie looks as good as it is supposed to here.Sound:
The main audio option on the disc is a really strong English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track but Fox has supplied Spanish, French, Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1 options as well as a Russian DTS 5.1 Surround Sound track. On top of that, though the back of the packaging doesn't list them all, the disc also offers subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish and last but not least, Ukrainian, making this a ridiculously language friendly release. So how does the DTS-HD track turn out? It's a good one. There's near constant surround activity evident throughout the movie and once things really ratchet up in the last twenty minutes this one turns out to be a pretty aggressive beast of a mix, the kind that swirls at you from all channels and that really gives your subwoofer a solid work out. Dialogue stays clear throughout all of this and the mix is properly balanced, though again there are a few scenes where the audio is intentionally a bit scratchy, in keeping with the found footage aspect of the production.Extras:
The extras on the disc start out with an audio commentary with that features directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett and producers Chad Villella and Justin Martinez. There's a lot of in joking and goofing around here, which will probably try the patience of some listeners, but if you can get past that and stick with it we do get some insight into the use of sound in the film, the cast's contributions to their specific roles, some of the effects and more. They also discuss various script points, the writing process and how they brought this movie from an idea to a finished product. It's not a very well structured track, in fact it's probably best described as erratic, but it has moments of interest.
From there we move on to a series of quick featurettes, the first (and longest) of which is the twelve minute Radio Silence: A Hell Of A Team which basically introduces us to the principal people involved in the making of the film (the same four guys on the commentary) by way of some fairly quick little interview snippets. Ashes To Ash is a quick (just short of one minute) found footage bit that relates to the use of ash in the movie. Along the same lines are the three and a half minute long short film The Lost Time, the two minute short Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad and the three and a half minute short Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly. These were all done by the same directors, albeit earlier in their career and you can see here how they worked on various aspects of their ‘found footage' technique.Rounding out the extras are just over sixteen minutes worth of fairly uninteresting Deleted Scenes. There are nine in total, and one of them is an extended ending and as such, maybe worth checking out, but otherwise most of these were probably cut to improve pacing. Also on the disc is a still gallery called Director's Photo Album and the film's original theatrical trailer. Promos for a few unrelated Fox properties play before the main menu screen loads. Chapter selection is also provided and as this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie and a download code for a digital copy. All of this fits inside a standard sized Blu-ray case that in turn fits inside a cardboard slipcover. All of the extras on the Blu-ray are in high definition. Final Thoughts:
Devil's Due is reasonably entertaining, if completely disposable supernatural horror. Though the story line has some huge plot holes, it's a decent time killer if you don't mind the found footage aspect. The Blu-ray from Fox looks as good as it realistically should and offers up an immersive and aggressive surround sound mix as well as a large selection of extras, but that doesn't really compensate for the fact that this is probably a movie you'll watch once and probably never really think about again. Rent it.