The world gets yet another entry in the found-footage genre of nouveau horror, heavily riffing on themes found in more popular films such as Rosemary’s Baby and the Omen franchise. Taking a cue from the demonic themes found in those films, once again a pregnancy turns from a source of joy to one of sheer terror for the parents. Devil’s Due is a predictable genre exercise that barely earns its R rating. Watching it is not entirely unpleasant due to likable actors in the primary roles, but its utterly formulaic approach brings nothing new to the table.
Devil’s Due is supposed to be about a satanic pregnancy, though its eschatological references are few and one gets the impression it was included as mere window dressing for the plot. The film opens with a quote from the Bible, 1 John 2:18, mentioning the coming antichrist. It’s a point that doesn’t get brought up again until far into the movie. One failure in Devil’s Due is how underwritten the backstory becomes as much of it feels like an afterthought to the occasional jump scare or weird occurrence happening around the pregnant mother. A Catholic priest makes an obligatory appearance in a critical scene before the final act, but his explanation of events happening to the young couple is curt and unsatisfactory.
Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha McCall (Allison Miller) are newly married and take their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. A fairly young couple just starting out their adult lives, children are not yet in their plans. If Devil’s Due does get one thing right, it definitely sells how hopelessly in love the couple are with each other. They are the picture of a happy couple about to start their life together as a family. That is mostly due to Zach Gilford, who brings an honest Everyman quality to all of his roles.
While on their honeymoon, the couple get warned by a mysterious native about Samantha’s background. A cabbie in the Dominican Republic then takes them to an underground club, where the alcohol and drugs are flowing freely. Both of them black out and the audience is subjected to brief shots of a sinister ceremony. The couple wake up in their own hotel room the next day, remembering almost nothing from the night before. Seven weeks later, Samantha finds out she is pregnant despite being on birth control. Cue a demonic pregnancy that causes Samantha to develop powers and the end of their happy life together.
The main problem with Devil’s Due is not the cast or even its slavish devotion to the found-footage technique, but the complete predictability of how everything will develop according to formula. Aside from a couple of interesting psychokinetic incidents borrowed from Carrie and Chronicle, Devil’s Due has nothing new to add except its modern setting. The malignant pregnancy is a common trope in horror films, going back decades. The horror genre’s increasing shift toward female audiences has made scary pregnancies even more common of late, so it is not like this is new ground.
Devil’s Due has been competently made and the two leads are pitch-perfect as a newly married couple struggling with a demonic pregnancy. There are some spine-tingling moments late, but most of the audience will have mentally checked out by then. Go watch The Omen from 1976 for a truly scary movie and skip this one.
Devil’s Due looks better than expected for a horror film consisting of mostly found-footage. Shot on a variety of digital cameras, much of the McCall’s life are documented in crystal-clarity by Zach’s supposed camcorder. Yes, there are some mild focus changes and the occasional shakycam effect, though Devil’s Due resorts to them much less than others in that style. A handful of shots purposely include some faux digital artifacts, mimicking amateur video. Overall the picture quality stays clean with excellent contrast, if a tad washed-out or crushed on occasion. Most of the usual cinematography associated with found-footage is in it, including nightgoggle vision.
Technically, Fox has given Devil’s Due a fine presentation on BD. The 89-minute main feature is encoded in AVC, averaging over 32 Mbps. It is not flawless, some minor macroblocking and chroma noise creep into the final scenes, as the movie turns darker near the end. Shown in its native 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, the 1080p video is free of questionable processing. Detail is fairly high, revealing a sharp image with no obvious ringing.
I don’t think this type of filmmaking produces pristine clarity or perfect picture quality. Devil’s Due turns out pretty well if one can make the occasional allowance for an upside-down camera and noisy black levels.
Devil’s Due enjoys a very active sound design with a menacing LFE presence. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack has an enjoyable mix, replete with a number of cool audio sequences meant to engage the audience. Everything comes through in perfect clarity and pinpoint imaging, this is a full surround mix that enjoys showing off the rear channels. It is very close to earning a perfect score, though it lacks the sonic chaos heard in the best action films.
Fox has definitely intended this BD for a global audience. It includes over a dozen subtitle tracks, including all the common ones. It also has seven foreign-language dubs, most in 5.1 Dolby Digital audio.
It’s strange how this movie receives a nicely-loaded edition, while some other movies see practically nothing in terms of special features. Most of it is aimed at the production team behind Devil’s Due, an outfit of four guys known as Radio Silence. They got their start making videos on the web. The commentary is pretty entertaining, the group is down-to-earth and engaging in their breakdown of the movie.
First pressings include a normal slipcover replicating the cover art. All copies should include a DVD of the main feature and an UltraViolet digital copy, redeemable in HDX on VUDU.
Audio Commentary with Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella, and Justin Martinez – The team known as Radio Silence, who wore various hats on the production behind Devil’s Due, give a solid commentary.
Deleted Scenes (16:35 in HD) – These all felt like superfluous scenes, aside from a short extended ending that took it in a different direction for a possible sequel.
Radio Silence: A Hell of a Team (12:18 in HD) – A featurette discussing Radio Silence and standard EPK behind-the-scenes material
Director’s Photo Album (12:30 in HD) – Dozens of still images from behind the scenes that can be manually advanced if one wishes. It looks like the director dumped his personal iPhone pictures from filming the movie on here.
Ashes to Ash (0:00:54 in HD), The Lost Time (03:30 in HD), Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad (02:19 in upscaled SD), Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly (03:26 in upscaled SD) – An eclectic assortment of short videos, some mere jokes while a couple look to have been intended as web fodder for some marketing campaign.
The BD also includes trailers for Joy Ride 3, 3 Days To Hell, American Horror Story: Asylum, Robocop (2014), Carrie (2013), and The Bridge: Season 1.
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.