The found footage exorcism flick “The Devil Inside” shocked Hollywood and topped the weekend box office over the weekend with an astonishing $34.5 million. Here’s the even more shocking part: Almost everyone who saw it hates the movie.
“The Devil Inside” earned an abysmal grade of F from Cinemascore, the market research film that grades audience reactions to films based on exit polls. That almost never happens; even “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” got an A from Cinemascore. (An A!) According to Wiki, only five other films have ever received an F from Cinemascore: The George Clooney remake of “Solaris,” the Ashley Judd meth drama “Bug,” Richard Kelly’s maddeningly stupid “The Box,” and the horror thrillers “Wolf Creek” and “Darkness.”
So what was the problem with “The Devil Inside?” It all comes down to the film’s utterly insulting ending, which completely devalues the theatergoing experience and treats the audience with a disdain that borders on contempt. Up until then, “The Devil Inside” is an efficient if cheap found footage thriller with some decent scares; it’s “The Exorcist” by way of “Paranormal Activity,” but nowhere in the ballpark of either of those two films. In short, it’s fine, and better than your typical early-year horror fare.
But that ending! It’s a total rip-off, and audiences nationwide have reacted to it with boos and shouting. (There were even reports of audience members spitting on theater floors.) I won’t give the ending away here, which is treating the film with far more respect that it treats its audience, but when I saw the movie Sunday night, the theater gasped at the ending and loudly complained as it exited the theater, and I did the same. (If one were so inclined, one could search YouTube for the ending along with an audience’s reaction, but I’ll leave that up to you.)
A good ending can make a film; odds are “The Sixth Sense” wouldn’t be as revered as it is had “I see dead people” only been a line in the film and not the basis for one of the showiest twists in Hollywood history. Likewise, a bad ending can completely undo an otherwise good movie, and in the case of “The Devil Inside,” it could sink what could have been a potential franchise for Paramount. (Not that they’re too concerned; “The Devil Inside” was reportedly acquired for around $1 million, so it’s all frosting on top at this point anyway.)
Ironically, all this talk about “The Devil Inside’s” ending could push even more people to the theater, which would be some true evil genius stuff on the part of Paramount, a twist ending all its own. But the ending “The Devil Inside” brings to mind is yet another famous ending, when the Sex Pistols closed their career with a simple question: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”