Movie Fanatic headed over to the Fox lot recently to attend a special presentation of footage from Devil’s Due.
Filmmakers Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella) were on hand to introduce the half-dozen scenes we saw (they were awesome!), and Eli Roth introduced the filmmaking team and declared himself a fan of the film for its originality and ability to captivate an audience. (We’ve also got a bunch of new stills from the movie to premiere throughout our report!)
“What I love about the movie is that you care about the characters so much,” Roth said before the footage commenced. The story, as teased in the Devil’s Due trailer, follows a couple (played by Allison Miller and Zach Gilford) who -- as we see in the first scene we saw -- have bought a video camera to chronicle their lives together. They are on the eve of their wedding and want to provide a documentation of their life, from wedded bliss through babies and old age.
They head to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon and everything seems as glorious as it should be. Then on their last night, a cab driver convinces them to keep the party going and they head to an underground club. There, in footage we also saw, they are clearly drugged and some sort of demonic ritual is performed. Soon after they head home, they discover she’s pregnant. But, as Roth explained in his intro to the footage, things are not quite right.
And that leads us to the first thing we learned about Devil’s Due. “It’s every couple’s worst nightmare. It’s so painful to watch,” Roth said. “You sort of know what the illness is but you’re watching this couple go through this heartbreaking thing.”
Some people have compared Devil’s Due to Rosemary’s Baby, and that is not something filmmakers, or Roth for that matter, are shying away from.
“When I ask people what their favorite horror film is, number one most people tell me Rosemary’s Baby or The Shining or The Exorcist. What I think Radio Silence did so well was saying right from the get-go, ‘yes, she’s impregnated by this satanic baby. Something awful happened. You all saw it,’” Roth said.
“And what’s enjoyable is watching her go through a pregnancy knowing this has happened. I thought they took it in so many great directions.”
Yes, this is a found footage movie and some pundits believe that the format is waning in popularity. Movie Fanatic doesn’t believe so, if it’s done right. That is a sentiment shared by Roth. “When it’s a bad POV movie it’s painful to watch,” he admitted.
“But when it’s done well you get a Goodbye Uncle Tom, a Cannibal Holocaust, a Blair Witch or a Paranormal Activity. You get so caught up in the scares that it actually transcends the formats. And I think you do that brilliantly. I know a lot of people are familiar with you guys from the awesome stuff you [pointing to Radio Silence] did in V/H/S.”
Radio Silence member Matt Bettinelli-Olpin reported that at this point, the guys have worked together for so long, it’s almost second nature. “We’ve been working together for 4 or 5 years now. We would make these shorts after work and on weekends,” Bettinelli-Olpin said.
“Then we got hooked up with V/H/S. Going from stuff where it’s just the four of us in a car on the side of the road shooting something to doing this movie, we as much as humanly possible tried to keep the process the same. We can all rely on each other and help each other. Fox has been fantastic about allowing us to continue to take what we do and move it into their realm and support us and not shift what we’ve done.”
Another thing that struck us about the footage we saw was how as the pregnancy progresses, Miller seems to become more and more blasé about what is happening to her, while Gilford’s frenzy towards his wife’s changing behavior grows fiercer. Oh, and then there’s these people who seem to lurk in the background that remind us of the people who were there to “help” Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Again, not a comparison these guys are shying away from.
“We also wanted to own it from the start. We didn’t pretend that it wasn’t that. Let’s just own it and let it play out from there,” Bettinelli-Olpin said.
Gillett further made his partner’s point. “Certainly Rosemary’s Baby came up when people saw the trailer and that’s not something we’re afraid of! We’re all huge fans of that film,” he added.
“We knew after reading the script that there was an opportunity to borrow from it in a smart way and really tell a story that had some similarities but felt a little more contemporary and accessible. Also, the style of the film allows the audience to be involved in a really intimate and almost voyeuristic way.”
And as was shown off in the Devil’s Due Silent Night trailer, the film – through the found footage format – has a way of putting the audience firmly into the emotional hurricane that the characters are going through. From its placid opening moments to the footage we saw of when the possessed mother is about to give birth, we can assure you that audiences have never seen anything like this before.
We’re left with two thoughts: Good luck sleeping after witnessing Devil’s Due, and husbands will never be so obsessed with their pregnant wives’ well-being after seeing it! Look for Devil’s Due in theaters January 17.