Despite it winning at Friday’s box office with almost $17 million, and being on track to close out the weekend in the number one position, the found-footage horror film The Devil Inside is leaving audiences up in arms – and I’ve heard first hand of several crowds pretty much flipping out as the end credits roll.
The market research company CinemaScore use exit polls to grade audience reaction and publish the results and, for the first time that I can remember, they’ve attributed a film the bottom-tier F grade. This just doesn’t happen. In CinemaScore terms, any F is an epic F.
A Paramount exec has responded to the F grade, e-mailing Deadline to say:
People love us or hate us but I think evil spirits corrupted CinemaScore’s model. Because the breakdown was ‘A’ = 16%, ‘B’ = 18%, ‘C’ = 24%, ‘D’ = 23%, ‘F’ = 19%. I’ll admit I went to public school but I think this should have got us a ‘C’!
Whatever the grade, these numbers show an unusual swing towards lower results. And it seems there’s a pretty simple reason why the audience are reacting this way – but to tell you what it is, I have to deliver a spoiler, of sorts.
Now, I haven’t seen it with my own two eyes but the film apparently ends in a very unorthodox and abrupt manner.
Very unorthodox and abrupt. And then a URL and message appear on the screen, directing the audience to “find out more” online.
You may recall a similar debacle with the Red Riding Hood tie-in novel, where the final chapter was missing and only published on the web after the movie had opened.
But this isn’t a tie-in piece of merchandise, this is the actual primary artefact. This is the film itself. You’ll pay your ten dollars – or even worse, pounds – and you take your seat and you give it the benefit of the doubt. And then, in the end… you’ll be spat out and told to go online to scratch around in the search for a conclusion to your experience.
The URL that appears on the screen is The Rossi Files. Should you visit it you’ll see that there’s a series of fake newspaper articles and bits of backstory bric a brac, and a few more video clips.
Interestingly, none of them offer any kind of resolution. Little Bleeders have confirmed that even after they went home, logged on and trawled through this site, they were still left without any kind of narrative closure.
Anecdotal evidence canvassed by Bleeding Cool suggest that audiences are errupting into booing and leaving the cinema angry. Many people have been seen asking for their money back. We’ve called in reports from five separate screenings and every single one, we’ve been told, ended with the audience enraged.
Now, I haven’t seen The Devil Inside and, really, until now, I hadn’t much wanted to. But now I’m curious. Is this ending as flat-out insulting as the widespread dissatisfaction suggests? Or is it a misunderstood provocation (cf. The Last Exorcism)? Mob mentality certainly has a history of getting things wrong.
Please, keep sending me your accounts of The Devil Inside screenings, your reaction and those of your fellow audience members.