Exorcismus (Spain: La posesión de Emma Evans), 2010.
Directed by Manuel Carballo.
Starring Sophie Vavasseur, Doug Bradley, Stephen Billington, Tommy Bastow and Jo-Anne Stockham.
A teenage girl’s life changes when starts having frightening fits, which her parents attribute to psychological problems. However, she senses that something much darker is hiding inside her and waiting to break into the world.
From the producers of the successful horror saga Rec and Rec 2 comes the supernatural thriller Exorcismus. A Spanish film set in England, Exorcismus shares a similar theme and genre to the producers last efforts; the clue is in the title as the film deals with the possession of a young girl and the resulting attempt at an exorcism to free the youth’s body of an evil entity.
The young girl in question is Emma (Sophie Vavasseur) a typically frustrated 14 year old who wishes to spend her time partying with friends, but is constantly nagged by her home-tutoring parents to do the opposite. The film opens with a confused and flustered Emma, self-harming herself in the family home, which is swiftly juxtaposed with her enjoying a computer game with her younger brother. Her hand is bandaged, signalling that her self-harming episode was in the past.
Due to a slightly confusing Tarantino-esque un-linear narrative structure, which is portrayed through erratically composed flashbacks, we are not provided with a transparent explanation of the origins of the young girl’s possession. This serves as a suspense device which slowly feeds our suspicion behind the demon’s seemingly random presence.
This attempted suspense, along with shaky cinematography and some classic regurgitation from the ‘how to make a horror film’ back catalogue; obligatory yet mildly effective techniques such as dark and looming establishing shots and point of view peering from behind innocuous bushes, creates the foundations for a watchable thriller. These qualities are marred by unnatural and clunky dialogue, wooden acting from the supporting cast and a budget which although evidently meagre, has not been stretched or supported by ingenuity or creativity. A larger portion of the intended suspense which should be enhanced through the acting has apparently been lost in translation.
Exorcismus does bear similar traits to the Rec series; the contained action within a sole building, the evil spirit vs. the priest and his uninformed accomplices and the ever-increasingly popular hand-held camera technique. Sadly these similarities are not as effectively utilised and for any wanting fan of the Spanish producers, their expectations will be dashed.
Exorcismus does have strong intentions and the film teeters along at an acceptable pace. With a few ‘watch through your fingers’ moments and a decent twist before the climax, it is at least an experimental effort with shades of a good concept for the producers to unashamedly add to their oeuvre. Predictions of few box-office receipts will surely force the decision to stick to native soil for their next outing.
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