Delivery: The Beast Within attempts psychological horror on a realistic scale – well, as realistic as fake reality television can be – but in attempting to blur the lines between a Hellish pregnancy and deeply-rooted mental insanity, writer/director Brian Netto creates a found footage horror film without much intrigue or flavor. Mokumentary horror films are no longer a dime a dozen, and while a movie like The Possession Of Michael King finds fresh, frantic new ways to introduce horrific scares, Delivery: The Beast Within feels lifeless, repetitive, and frustratingly underwhelming. It’s possible to find ways to inject genre craziness into films favoring a human vibe, but Netto would rather make demonic possession just a suggested afterthought, going the route of an even further watered-down Paranormal Activity copycat – minus a creeping sense of unnerving terror.
The Massy family are the latest subjects of America’s reality TV obsession, inviting viewers into their home while going through the motions of a full pregnancy term. After filming the pilot episode of Delivery, showrunner Rick (Rob Cobuzio) starts to notice problems plaguing his production, from a shift in Rachel Massy’s (Laurel Vail) personality to camera difficulties that result in missing content. Becoming increasingly worried by his wife’s actions, Kyle Massy (Danny Barclay) starts to experience a strain on his relationship that is caught in detail by Rick’s camera crew. As Rachel’s behavior spirals out of control, can Kyle keep his family together in front of a national audience?
The main problem here is that Delivery: The Beast Within drags on scene after scene, teasing moments prime for found footage scares, yet once the whole film is said and done for, we realize that the anticipation is never capitalized on. Netto orchestrates a series of dramatic moments between Rachel and Kyle, slowly bringing forth an idea that suggests a vengeful demon named Alister threatens their unborn child, but horror never rears its ugly head in an effort to attack the Massy family. While some may appreciate the more contained delivery that kicks off with an entire pilot episode equal to the quality you might find on Lifetime or Bravo, the reality television aspect becomes tiresome, and we’re never truly submerged in a pool of atmospheric scares that one would expect to form in the shadow of a possessed child. The action here simmers on levels beyond slow-burn, barely reaching a bubbling boil, but I’m sure an appreciation exists for such a horror film that refuses to assault fans with a non-stop slew of slamming doors, moving furniture, and physical abuse – just not from this reviewer.
The relationship between actress Laurel Vail and actor Danny Barclay bears the weight of Delivery: The Beast Within, because once we realize Netto has no interest in really exploring the supernatural through monsters, ghosts, or anything other than lens distortion, the film devolves into a talky character dissection with mental illness on the forefront. Barclay reacts as rational humans would, working to keep his family safe while dealing with audacious claims of malevolent forces looming in the shadows. Becoming fed up with his wife’s dog-fearing claims, a steady progression into a fed-up rage mirrors that of a Micah Sloat (Paranormal Activity), only with much less poignancy due to Netto’s constant struggle to keep a creeping sense of dread present with each disappointing “attack” on the Massy home. Sleeping, arguing, door-knocking, creaky stairs – oh, the horror!
In attempting to recreate hours of recorded footage never strung together for the ill-fated series, Netto’s camera quality doesn’t exactly resemble high-definition technologies that studios might have access to. Along the lines of so many generic found footage films, Delivery: The Beast Within becomes a victim of grainy camera blurring when representing demonic forces, something that becomes a nuisance as special effects aren’t even being hidden. I understand when shoddy creature suits are blurred behind snowy interference, but there’s nothing even worth distorting when analyzing each bout of altered video feed. Then comes our finale, the climatic birthing scene, and again the scariest material we get involves nothing but feedback problems and split-screens when referencing whatever evil is about to come shooting out of Rachel. These are the moments meant to counterbalance all the horridly paced relationship drama that the Massys argue bitterly through, but their fuses fizzle out instead of exploding with proper intensity – minus Netto’s painfully obvious closing scene.
Despite a jarring ending that references classic child-baring horror films such as Rosemary’s Baby, Delivery: The Beast Within fails to establish a lively story beyond realms that directors have already squeezed the maternal juices from. Hell, there’s a better paternal horror story found in Devil’s Due, a film with hazy pacing problems of its own, as a psychological spin can’t quite atone for such an inexcusably stale chunk of generically established cinema. No ground is broken through mockumentary styles, the Massy family becomes stuck in a dull cycle and surprises are telegraphed far too easily, culminating in a sleepy watch that rests on rehashed references from earlier movies who have all proved a competency leaps and bounds ahead of Delivery: The Beast Within. A final jaw-dropping gasp doesn’t mean you’ve effectively caused the last hour and twenty minutes worth of amateur establishments and senseless babbling to vanish, as it would have been nice to strike a consistent balance between piercing horror and mental evaluations that throw us off the scent of devilish workings.
Delivery: The Beast Within plays out like a fireworks display that hopes you'll only remember the grand finale, and not the preceding hour's worth of uneventful build-up material that you're forced to sit through.