Directed by Manuel Carballo
Written by David Munoz
Starring Sophie Vavasseur, Tommy Bastow, Stephen Billington, Doug Bradley
As I said in the intro, exorcism films have it tough–especially if they’re about a possessed little girl. Look at THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE and THE LAST EXORCISM, two somewhat successful modern films about exorcism. Both feature possessed teens attached to furniture. Both feature conflicted holy men spewing both gospel and holy water like a garden sprinkler. Both go through the same motions introducing an innocent girl and then twisting her into a foul mouthed, tongues speaking, fluid flinging, body contorting demon child. EXORCISMUS has all of the above attributes and you’d think that by now, I’d rather chug a bowl of pea soup than sit though another possessed girl rehash. But despite the similarities to THE EXORCIST and it’s modern day offspring, I found myself kind of into EXORCISMUS.
EXORCISMUS starts out ominously. Emma (played by the versatile Sophie Vavasseur) seems like a normal teenager. She fights with her parents about curfew and babysitting her kid brother. She has secret crushes and hangs with her friends. But all of a sudden her life is thrown into chaos when she experiences blackouts and hallucinations of white eyed demons, snakes, and cockroaches. Pretty soon, Emma starts attacking her family and when modern medicine fails to come up with an explanation, they turn to Christopher, a family friend and priest (played by Stephen Billington) for advice. It’s clear to Christopher that Emma is possessed and in need of an exorcism. There’s a bit of intrigue peppered in as the priest has some not so noble interests in Emma’s condition and wishes to videotape the exorcism in order to prove the existence of Satan. So the priest is more concerned with Satan showing his horny face than the well being of the child, which is a nice twist on the well-tread story that kind of sets EXORCISMUS apart from the herd.
Spanish director Manuel Carballo has a patient hand and though this film has some really disturbing effects and imagery, he’s slow in revealing them. For most of the film, Emma looks as if she may be just having fits and seizures—possibly some hallucinations here and there. Even when the exorcism goes full force, the effects are at a minimum relying on the actors to convey terror and menace rather than CGI. There’s no caked on makeup, just subtle creeps like the whitening Emma’s eyes while under the devil’s thrall.
Though EXORCISMUS walks down a well tread path blazed by THE EXORCIST when it comes to plot, it does so with talented actors, a patient script, and subtle and original imagery and effects. Plus Doug “Pinhead” Bradley makes an appearance as a priest which is a nice wink and nod to his Cenobite days. EXORCISMUS isn’t as bombastic as THE RITE or as iconic as THE EXORCIST, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out.