Director – Manuel Carballo
Cast – Sophie Vavasseur, Stephen Billington, Tommy Bastow, Richard Felix, Jo-Anne Stockham, Doug Bradley, Melina Matthews
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Growing up with a religious background always left me enthused on the subject of exorcisms, and because of that I find it very hard to turn down any horror film with an exorcism influence, regardless of how bad I expect it to be. Exorcismus fell into that category of films I expected to suck, but surprisingly enough I found this piece to be better than expected thanks to fairly positive direction and several storyline twists that made for a unique entry into the exorcism sub-genre.
When 15 year old Emma begins have troubling seizures and violent outbursts her family assumes psychiatric treatment is what is needed to cure her. However, when Emma’s condition worsens and she begins to exhibit supernatural tendencies, a priest with a haunting past is called in to exorcise her.
Overall this is the usual exorcism film, giving us the usual disbelief that occurs at first and eventually erupting into a war between priest and the demon possessing the individual, but Exorcismus manages to also deliver its own unique take as well. We follow Emma as she bears the daunting curse of having a demon inside her forcing her to commit terrible acts that she would have no recollection of when the act was over, which made this film more of a character driven piece than most exorcism efforts. We see the impact her condition has on the rest of her family, and soon enough her actions force her friends to sever their ties with her as well. The ante is upped when the priest is finally brought into the picture, which forces the demon within Emma to lash out with uncontrollable force that the priest never saw coming, which is where the twists begin to kick in gear. We learn that this troubled priest, whose last exorcism “patient” did not survive her ordeal, has some alterior motives that lean towards a bigger cause, and that is all that I can tell you without ruin these twists for you, which are one of the biggest reasons behind my mostly-positive enjoyment of this flick.
Director Manuel Carballo did a swell job executing this piece, employing unique cinematography that I did not expect to see, mostly in the form of close-up shots on steady cam, and his camerawork managed to give us a few decent jolts here and there as well. Once things get going it is obvious that this is a low-budget film due to the mediocre CGI used at times, but I was very surprised to see good execution of Emma during her exorcism scenes, which were much better than expected and provided for most of the horror in the film. The acting performances are average, but each provides their own unique qualities to the film and it works in keeping the viewer engaged. We get little in terms of gore and kills, but the horror overall was great and it gave me what I came to see.
So why only a 6 rating if I liked Exorcismus? Well, because it is not without its faults. The story never really hit me in the face with anything other than the several twists thrown in, and even those twists were not THAT amazing, just interesting and unique. Carballo’s direction could have been better at times, and the low budget seemed to have held him back in really giving us spook-inducing horror, which in the end was not enough for a truly positive reating.
Overall, Exorcismus is a unique entry into the exorcism sub-genre that gives us the usual elements along with some creative ideas thrown into the storyline. While the horror was enjoyable and pretty good at times, in the end it was just enough for a film I would not outrightly recommend, but a flick you can give a watch to if you have nothing else before you.