Being a horror film fan, I am almost always drawn to stories that depict the supernatural and the occult. I have seen a ton of exorcism films and most of them always have a common denominator, it is a classic struggle between the forces of good and the personification of evil. Well, “Exorcismus” is a film by Spanish filmmakers that has been shot in Australia in the English language. It is still the common exorcism film but it tries to do something different; if only the direction by Manuel Carballo was more capable in bringing forth all the aces up its sleeve.
A young 15-year old named Emma (Sophie Vavasseur) has started to exhibit real odd behavior that may point to insanity. Her parents, John (Richard Felix) and Lucy (Jo Anne Sotckham) sends her to a psychologist but it was until something truly unreal happens that they realize that it may be demonic possession. They decide to call in a priest who is also her uncle Christopher (Stephen Billington) to help her. But can he really help young Emma before this family is destroyed by evil?
Unlike other exorcism films, “Exorcismo” tries to do something different. Most exorcism films deal with the suffering of the victim while serving up scares and suspense to keep the viewer on their feet. The script does still do all these things, but rather than allowing creepy occurrences and images to drive the film, it takes the viewer into a viewpoint where he could see just how a family can be affected, both directly and indirectly by evil. This was a good move, there was never any doubt that young Emma had been possessed. The question lies as to the why and the how, as the direction brings such details into exposition. It is all good as we see this evil work its manipulation and coercion through images, hallucinations and even lies. There was indeed something real and sinister as we see the characters fall victim to their desires and vanity, their disbelief and lack of faith.
The performances were decent; and I was actually quite taken by the lead. The visual effects were good for an exorcism picture and stays true to past groundwork made popular by “The Exorcist” as with vomiting, making objects move by themselves and a repugnance to religious objects. The film really began to pick up when it reaches the exorcism scenes. There were some genuinely creepy images that gave me Goosebumps. I also liked the twist in the final act of the film, as it showed that even the more righteous intentions can be corrupted; that even the righteous can be a puppet to their own vanity and desires.
Yes, there were several things that could have made this a fine film. The problem was the way it was intentionally fragmented to expose certain key plot points. In some ways, it moved quickly and yet, it was so slow in expressing the needed emotions. As a result, it appeared as though there was a lot to take in from the plot, even though there really wasn’t much. It moved a little too rushed that I felt the need to rush into any emotion. The direction felt real heavy-handed that it missed the need to inspire emotion to induce a credible scare. I really did not enjoy the way the film was shot, in some small way, I felt like I was watching a music video.
Which was just too bad. The film had enough ambition and imagination to come up with a credible horror film. It had enough thought that it would’ve been fine to go forward with a more dramatic approach. The way it was paced killed every possible effect the film could’ve gotten with me. Instead, “Exorcismus” is not an essential watch for a horror fan. It would only be good enough to see as a rental since it has all the devices needed for a film of its kind. It could’ve been really good and somewhat original, but it killed all the emotions by being too fragmented and a tad too preachy.
RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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This dark tale of supernatural possession from director Manuel Carballo combines classic horror with riveting family drama. Fifteen-year-old Emma (Sophie Vavasseur, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) is going through the growing pains of teen life, believing her parents don't understand her and longing for the independence that's still a few years away. When Emma falls prey to a series of seizures that leave doctors and psychologists baffled, her parents summon a priest (Doug Bradley) to help the girl. But what lurks inside Emma is far more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. EXORCISMUS mounts to a pitch of horror from which you won't be able to turn away.