Radio Silence's members know what you're thinking—great, another found-footage movie, and not only another found-footage movie, but one about the devil and demonic possession. How original, Hollywood.
Rest assured, though, Devil's Due isn't The Devil Inside, mainly because its makers aren't pedestrian horror enthusiasts. Long versed in the first-person POV aesthetic, they're well aware of the found-footage style's overused techniques and scare tactics; known for zany genre adventures like "Mountain Devil Prank Goes Fails Horribly," they're not interested in dreary cinematic Satanism, either.
For them, Devil's Due presented the rare opportunity to marry, no pun intended, a heartfelt story about two likable characters with the gonzo horror outbursts seen in their V/H/S segment, but on a much larger scale.
Gillett: We wanted to keep pushing the boundaries of found-footage, because we have dabbled in it a lot. It's always fun to ask ourselves, "OK, how can we make this fun, original, and fresh?" For no other reason than to just not be bored while making it, honestly.
Bettinelli-Olpin: We really brought our voice to the project, which made making the film so much fun. The question was, "How do we instill a fun energy throughout this?" That's always the question running through our projects. The script was originally much more like Rosemary's Baby, honestly, and much more of a creepy mood piece.
That's no slight against the original draft. We're obviously huge fans of the original script, or else we wouldn't have signed onto the project. And we love Rosemary's Baby. It was definitely more of a conventional horror movie, though, which presented challenges from the start. It was pitched and sold as a found-footage take on Rosemary's Baby.
Gillett: Audiences have very specific expectations when it comes to these kinds of horror movies, and we were very aware of that. There have been so many movies about the devil possessing people lately—it's been done so much. One of the things we did, and made the decision to own up to from day one, was to acknowledge that this is about the birth of the Antichrist. What makes Rosemary's Baby so tense and great is that they withhold that for the entire movie. That's what makes that movie fantastic.
Ours, though, is called Devil's Due—everyone's going to know what it is before they even buy their ticket. So let's own that. We moved that up to 15 minutes into the movie, whereas the original script concealed it for a long time, like Rosemary's Baby. From there, it was fun to figure out how to keep the audience ahead of the characters at first, and then when to put the characters in the know, and then when to have those points-of-view intersect and, if we do our job properly, put the audience in the dark when certain characters know more than they do. That was a really fun challenge.
Also, as a fun little nod to Rosemary's Baby, we were able to score an original prop crucifix from Roman Polanski's film and put it into Devil's Due. Our post-supervisor had it and let us put it into the movie.
The ideas of satanism and demonic possessions in horror are just so much fun, too. When you're playing with a demon or the Devil, there are no rules. You can do whatever you want with it, and that opened us creatively to do any number of crazy, fun paranormal things. There's no box when you're working with something like a demon—you can interpret that in so many fun ways.
Bettinelli-Olpin: We instilled such a sense of humor into the first half of the movie, and we're so proud of that. That's the kind of sensibility we had in our earlier web shorts, and in our V/H/S segment. Fox let us keep the humor in. It wasn't in the original draft, but we were able to allow Zach [Gilford] and Allison [Miller] to work their own senses of humor in and make the characters feel authentic.
Gillett: That's the kind of horror we want to make—horror with humor. Super-bleak horror isn't our thing. We love those kinds of movies, but that's now what we want to make. Those movies don't feel relatable. You always feel like you're watching a horror movie in those kinds of movies, because it's missing part of the dynamic range that real people have. Even when things are super shitty, we still try to laugh and bring ourselves up somehow.
As much as we could, we tried to explore that full range of emotions in Devil's Due. That's even more important when you're making a found-footage movie, too. It's supposed to be "real," right? So if the characters are just miserable and everything is so bleak, it doesn't feel real.
The trailers, we know, make it seem like we've made just another found-footage movie about the devil. Bu the stuff that they're not showing in the trailers is ultimately what will make the movie memorable. People will see this movie and fall in love with Zach and Allison, and they'll root for them, and feel something when all of the bad, crazy shit happens to them. At least that's our hope. That was the intention from the start.
The stuff that happens in a lot of horror movies is going to happen to their characters, but you're going to care about them through it all. We'd love for that to be part of the marketing, but that people will be surprised by that feels like a good thing.