Devil’s Due is a surprisingly slowly-paced foray into the demonic pregnancy genre (because you can’t go wrong with the spawn of Satan), told through the found-footage approach. It tempers itself with a slow build and restrained atmosphere, relying largely on character work during the early moments of the film (a surprisingly refreshing attribute for found-footage). There are certainly jump moments and money shots to be had, but they are not the central focus of this one. Ultimately, it offers a story you’ve heard before, told and developed in careful, well-paced manner.
Devil’s Due is the story of newly-wed couple, Zach (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller). The film begins the night before their wedding, and ends about nine months later. After a blackout evening on the last night of their honeymoon (wherein some strange shit goes down that only the audience is privy to), they find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly planning for the birth of their first child. At first, the couple is overjoyed. But as time goes on, it becomes clear that something is amiss with the pregnancy, as Samantha behavior becomes increasingly strange and erratic.
All in all, it’s sort of a modern cousin to Rosemary’s Baby, but without the creepy/awesome Polanski vibe and told through handheld cameras. But that doesn’t necessarily make the experience a total bust. Yes, you’ve seen it before, and yes, you know every plot turn as it comes at you, but that does little to crush the experience of watching it. Even though you know where the train is going in Devil’s Due, it’s still a fun ride.
A lot of what makes this film work lies in the characterization and in the performances. The nature of found footage means that we, as the audience, are dropped straight into the proceedings, and that any attempt as character building often comes off as forced and unnatural. Gilford and Miller really put a lot into Zach and Sam and give us characters that we are rooting for from the very beginning. They have a great chemistry together and give these characters a lot more personality than we have come to expect from these films. They may have the burden of a tad too much exposition at times, but they still manage to convey the personalities in both characters, and the nature of their relationship.
And while the story is most definitely familiar, directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillette of the collective Radio Silence (the group responsible for the crazy-ass ending segment of V/H/S), still wind up turning in a few unexpected moments. The practical effects work well and nothing really takes you out of the moment.
If you absolutely can’t stand found-footage, it probably doesn’t have anything to offer you. It doesn’t contribute to the concept in a new way, and you’ve seen much of what’s it’s doing before. But if you’re willing to give it a shot, it manages to tell a fun story and to (mostly) avoid a lot of the major pitfalls of the subgenre. You’re not left scratching your head and wondering “why the fuck are they still filming this.” There’s a reason for everything, and while sometimes it seems a little thin, you do appreciate that thought actually went in to ironing out some of these details.
Devil’s Due isn’t a movie that will change your life, but does it really have to be? This is a fun horror film with a likeable cast and a familiar, but not over-played premise. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s the perfect thing to settle down with on a lazy evening. Sometimes, you just need comfort food.