Suzan Crowley, left, and Fernanda Andrade star in "The Devil Inside." (Paramount )
People of the world: If you find some footage, leave it be. You will likely be doing the rest of us a huge favor. "The Devil Inside" is the latest in the apparently endless supply of "found footage" fake documentaries that present themselves as cobbled together from the artifacts of a hapless filmmaker on an especially doomed project.
A woman confesses to a triple homicide and is eventually shipped to a hospital for the criminally insane in Rome with ties to the Vatican. (It's seemingly no big deal for an American citizen to be extradited to an Italian mental facility for a crime committed in Connecticut.) Twenty years later, the woman's daughter travels to Italy to find out if her mother is mentally ill or possessed. There is of course a cameraman in tow and after walking into a class for exorcists, they team up with two young priests who practice their own techniques outside the guidelines of the church.
Part of what makes the movie so frustrating in its essential flatness is that there is an interesting idea for a film tucked away in all that, something about the intersection of mental illness and possession, the point where faith must pick up what science can no longer explain. But instead of exploring that, there is lots of tedious exposition with an over-reliance on direct-to-camera confessionals as dutiful setup to a handful of dreadfully handled exorcism scenes. One of the key ad images for the film, an elderly nun whose eyes have no pupils, is seen only in passing and there is a lame attempt to milk a big scare out of a dog barking on the street. Directed by William Brent Bell from a script co-written with Matthew Peterman, "The Devil Inside" plays like a horror film conceived on graph paper.
The film is being released under Paramount's low-budget Insurge Pictures banner, and its filmmakers apparently could not afford an ending. The story doesn't climax or resolve so much as just stop — a recruited audience member at a local premiere/critics preview was overheard saying, "That was it?"