Dave's Rating:


What the hell...

If I were the actual Satan I wouldn't love a film like The Exorcist. Seen that one lately? It holds up. Still unnerving, still frightening. I also wouldn't love that 1980s Mickey Rourke movie Angel Heart. In that film Satan is creepy and gross. Has really long fingernails. That's bad for business.

But if I were the actual Satan I would love this film. I would also love last year's The Rite, the 1970's blaxploitation film Abby, Jason Sudeikis in a red cape and tights on SNL and all Devil costumes on French Bulldogs at Halloween. If I were the actual Satan I would love anything stupid enough to make people think I'm harmless.

So here's this movie. This stupid movie. In spite of the INXS-y come-on title, it isn't about the ghost of Michael Hutchence possessing the souls of all the kids from Take Me Home Tonight and making them hurl themselves, en masse, off a cliff. That would be too awesome. Instead it's a lot of everything you've seen before in The Blair Witch Project and all the Paranormal Activity installments and The Last Exorcism. What, you were making a documentary, you say? And this is the surviving footage? SHOW ME IT!

Isabella (Fernanda Andrade), whose mother (Suzan Crowley) has been possessed for decades -- she even killed some clergy in 1989 when they tried to exorcise her -- travels to Italy to to visit her at a mental hospital where she's being hidden away by the Catholic Church. Isabella meets two priests and together the three of them start performing exorcisms. Cue the speaking in tongues, mysterious upside-down crosses cut into lips and arms, spontaneous bleeding and back-crunching contortion tricks.

But also cue some bouncy, energetic dumbness, the kind that means you're never fully bored even though nothing new is taking place. Crowley, a genuine actress who was even in a cool Peter Greenaway movie, The Draughtsman's Contract, gives the film its only real moments of uncertainty and fear, while one of the hell-infused victims is played by a contortionist named Bonnie Morgan (check out her crazy picture on IMDB -- if a person could be said to own a head-foot then it's this woman). Even better, the pervasive idiocy turns the plot into a game of Satanic "Hot Potato" as characters accidentally infect each other with Devilness, kind of like Contagion minus Gwyneth Paltrow's peeled-back skullflap.

So yeah, it sucks. You might as well go see it. Who cares? Not the actual Satan. He's too busy sending out thank-you notes to everybody in the cast and crew.


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