Devil’s Due is purely erected off of found footage-convention and destined to be forgotten by the middle of this year.

Just days before its release, the film Devil’s Due struck marketing gold when the marketing campaign created a remote-controlled baby-carriage with an animatronic, demon-baby inside that would stroll itself around the streets of Manhattan and frighten innocent bystanders by having the infant scream or vomit milk near them. Videos soon went viral, reactions-videos found themselves on the daily news, and a marketer’s dream came true – everyone has been talking about the film and stunt since.

Now if only the stunt was (a) made for a film that was actually kind of good and (b) actually had something to do with the film at hand. While the film deals with the spawn of the Devil, the baby or its demonic powers aren’t the focus of the picture. Instead, we get acquainted with the cutest, whitest, most typical newlywed couple in the history of cinema as they deal with an unexpected pregnancy after a night of chaotic debauchery while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. It’s practically a found footage version of Rosemary’s Baby, but even that comparison just feels wrong to make.

Devil’s Due
Directed by
Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett
Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson
Release Date
17 January 2014
Steve’s Grade: D

The couple is Zach and Samantha McCall (Zach Gilford and Allison Miller), who deal with the unplanned pregnancy as presumably many people would. They schedule prolific doctor visits, she monitors her health and her diet, he assists with the plans and the renovations, etc. Zach decides to document all this for future reference (why he chooses to film such trivial occurrences such as his wife waking up in the morning, them getting dressed, and numerous shots of his wife’s pantie-clad rear to show his future child is beyond me).

Samantha’s pregnancy, however, is hell for both her and Zach. Samantha exhibits antisocial behavior, becomes more violent, alienates and abuses those she loves, etc. Much like Jesse from Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and virtually every other character from horror films who has been victim to some demonic possession.

The camerawork at hand here is awful; compare it to a camera in a video game that never seems to be in the correct position to capture the action and give you a sense of direction. Shots are choppy, so shaky they induce nausea, quite literally, and the angles of the shots are constantly wonky, as they either cut off their subjects or are zoomed in too far. The film’s directors, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, are two of the four members of a Los Angeles band of filmmakers named “Radio Silence,” and this is the group’s second directorial credit after 2012’s found footage anthology V/H/S. The two men never seem to know quite what they’re shooting or how to properly angle a shot, especially later in the film when there is a lot going on on screen.

The breath of directorial fresh air comes when large-scale shots are staged, particularly those set in grocery stores or parking lots when we see things from a bird’s eye view thanks to security cameras. For one, the camera is steady, and two, at least we have an environment to see. The remainder of the film focuses on a camera that is as steady as a shoulder-mounted one when somebody jogs.

Devil’s Due is exactly the kind of middling January-fare we’re subjected to, and the kind of spur-of-the-moment horror film that will either make a killing its first weekend or one that will be met with lukewarm revenue before fading into complete obscurity. I feel like I’m reiterating all the points from my Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones review for this particular picture, thus making Devil’s Due even more of an interchangeable release. While it takes a premise that can be toyed with in numerous different ways, Devil’s Due is purely erected off of found footage-convention and destined to be forgotten by the middle of this year.

NOTE: I will also say that my year and a half of public school Spanish is getting a workout this month, with both Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Devil’s Due coming out and utilizing Latino characters in some specific way.

Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic