Invariably a found-footage horror movie inspires the question "Why is somebody still holding a camera?" Later you observe, "Well, that 'accidental' camera drop landed perfectly." Eventually it's "Do I need to get milk on the way home?"
The slight and derivative "Devil's Due" drags "Rosemary's Baby" into the genre's most overused convention with the story of newlyweds Samantha (Allison Miller), perky and sweet, and camera-obsessed Zach (Zach Gilford), pathological about digitally logging their young lives. And yet the honeymooners are strangely unconcerned the night after a Santo Domingo palm reader creepily tells Sam, "You were born from death," and a random cabbie takes them to an underground rave after which they black out.
Never mind — suddenly they're pregnant! Sure, Sam acts strangely when she feels threatened and carves into the nursery room floor at night. Zach even eases off on filming everything, but no worries: Writer Lindsay Devlin and directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (it took two?) keep the surveillance aesthetics alive with mysterious intruders installing spy cameras in the couple's home. Makes sense.
We're more than 45 years out from Roman Polanski's director-controlled masterpiece in gestating terror, and yet no gimmick in "Devil's Due" — no point-of-view shock cut or shaky-cam "realism" — is as dread-inducing as tracking the grim revelations on Mia Farrow's face.
Then again, a movie like "Devil's Due" is less about psychological terror than the rapidly diminishing (and predictable) stunts of the found-footage craze. The next time Satan's expecting, let's hope there's not a camcorder in sight.
Rating: R for language, bloody images
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: In wide releaseCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times