Most reviews seem to have panned this, but I kind of liked it.
This week is more proof that I have been secretly transported to Bizarro world and that in it most of Bizarro humanity is comprise of freaks and I am the normal one. Everyone loved Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and I thought it was sluggish and confusing. Everyone seems to hate this movie and, to be honest, I really enjoyed it. I found it fun, interesting, and honestly frightening at points, and when I get back to the real, non-Bizarro world I am sure I will find any number of people who agree with me (in the real world I also have a ton of money and women find me irresistible. Bizarro world sucks. Bizarro image courtesy of the Superman T Shirt category).
That is not to say this movie doesn’t have it’s flaws, and I can totally see where a lot of the criticism stems from. We will get into that shortly, but overall I found this movie to be a good time.
What I didn’t find this movie to be, however, was a good value for the money. It is a woefully short 87 minutes and the ending they pulled out of their asses with no sign of any kind of resolution, conclusion, or development. As it is a mock “found footage” documentary this is kind of understandable, but honestly this film looks exactly like a student film that the people working on it got bored and decided to just end it in one fell swoop. The film puts the “ow” in “low budget” and I think there is a distinct possibility they ran out of funds and decided to wrap it up quick.
The movie is presented as a documentary about a daughter named Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade-Why am I Doing This?, Fallen, For Love or Country; the Arturo Sandoval Story) looking into the demonic possession of her mother (Susan Crowley-Born of Fire, Cristabel) with the help of a documentarian named Micheal (Ionut Grama-The Whistleblower, Guber’s Journey, Closer to the Moon) who wants to do a film about exorcisms. They travel to Rome where the mother is locked up in a Catholic mental hospital. In Rome they meet two freelance exorcists, Ben and David (Simon Quarterman-The Scorpian King; Rise of a Warrior, Inside, Perfect Strangers and Evan Helmuth-Garfield, Fever Pitch, Franks Book. Wasn’t the Helmouth the name of the portal to Hell in the basement of the school in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?), both priests who do exorcisms without the consent of the Church. The mother killed three people when they last tried to exorcise her so the Church wants nothing to do with her.
At that point we get a lot of character development. Interviews go on with Ben, David, and Isabella that explore their reasons and motivations for being into exorcism. In a normal film I would be very pleased to see such character depth presented, but in a documentary format I can’t really give props for characters more or less saying “The reason I got into exorcism is blah blah blah”. Fish in a barrel, really. This section drags on a little but the pacing seemed appropriate for a documentary. We get to the actual exorcism and at that point the story kind of drops the character exploration in favor of some scary scenes. A few minutes later someone switches the record player from 33 to 45 (all my older readers should understand that last one) and the story thunders to the conclusion like it activated the booster rocket embedded in its ass. Demonic chaos (haw!) ensues and some stuff that was hinted at never gets revealed.
The stars. Well done, given the limitations that found footage movies must labor under. One star. While it was obviously derived from Blair Witch Project, I didn’t feel like it was really just a remake. One star. The actors were all pretty good, and I liked all the characters. One star. Fernands Andrade is super cute in a wholesome way that I really liked (also brunette, my personal fav). One star. This horror movie was actually scary at points, and presented some creepy and interesting concepts. I found myself jumping at times. One star. Good use of camera and lighting to help set the creepy mood. One star. Good character development and presentation, at least in the first half of the film. One star. The didn’t do the whole camera-man-jogging-so-the-screen-is-constantly-jumping-around thing, which meant I didn’t lose my popcorn. One star. Overall entertaining. One star. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. The movie ended so abruptly I expected the airbag to go off. One black hole. The film felt really, really short and had a lot of padding in the form of characters walking down hallways and so one. Not a lot of meat. One black hole. While the horror buildup was presented with a nice progression once we got into the actual scary stuff the movie was pretty much over. It’s rare that I ask for more gore, but this movie could have used something. One black hole. There was a large number of opportunities for further plot or character development that were left by the wayside. Each character, including the possessing demon, had something hinted at that would have been really interested had we been given a little more. One black hole. Total: Four black holes.
So a total of five stars, which is way more than I expected it to get going in. I had heard this movie sucked and was more or less salivating in anticipation of something really juicy to chew on, but found that it wasn’t bad. In fact, I spent the first 20 minutes really looking for the suck before settling into my seat to enjoy it. Is it worth seeing? Sure, especially if you can see it for $5 like I did. It will do OK on a TV scree, but some of the exorcism scenes might lose a lot, especially the first one. Date movie? For the right girl, yes. Don’t take someone who is religious unless you want to get a religious lecture and a firm handshake at the end of date. Actually, I think this is an excellent date movie. Scary enough to have her holding onto your arm but not so frightening that she gets creeped out on the ride home. There are a couple scenes involving things that might creep out a girl particularly, but for the most part if she has a brain and sense of humor it should work OK.
Thanks for reading. Nothing to see tonight, so I will continue with my end of the year awards tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Have a good night, and I will talk to you all later.