Exorcismus, directed by filmmaker Manuel Carballo Fifteen year-old Emma Evans (Sophie Vavasseur) who isn't getting along so well these days with her overbearing mother Lucy (Jo-Anne Stockham). Emma's old enough that she's bowing to social pressures and would rather to go a regular school with her friends Rose (Isamaya French) and Alex (Tommy Bastow) rather than be homeschooled as she has been for quite some time. It all more or less hits the fan when Emma's mother won't let her to go a concert. She has a convulsion and is, of course, taken to the hospital but nobody there can find anything wrong with Emma - she seems to be in perfect shape.
Eventually Emma's father, John (Richard Felix), tries to talk Lucy into letting Emma go to a regular school but Lucy refuses and instead decides to send her troubled daughter to see a psychoanalyst, adamant in her belief that Emma is suffering from some sort of psychological dilemmas. When the doctor decides that Emma should undergo hypnosis, Emma requests that Rose record the events on her cell phone. Interestingly enough, the doctor drops dead during the hypnosis and it's starting to look like there might be more to this than just simple teenage rebellion. Emma, while under hypnosis, made some unusual sounds she starts to wonder if she isn't suffering from demonic possession. When more and more evidence starts piling up indicating that this very well may be the case, her parents bring in an exorcist Christopher (Stephen Billington), who also happens to be Emma's uncle. Lucy, however, has some serious reservations about this because she knows more about the priest's past than anyone else.
Nicely shot and well acted, Exorcismus doesn't offer up much originality when compared to other exorcism films but it does what it does reasonably well in spite of some very obvious pacing issues during the first half of the movie. The cast are all quite good in their respective roles with Sophie Vavasseur impressing in particular, and if she doesn't necessarily keep us guessing in regards to whether or not she's actually legitimately possessed, this is the fault of the script and not of her performance. Stephen Billington makes for a good casting choice in the role of the priest, while Jo-Anne Stockham also turns in good work as the overbearing mother. Doug Bradley, best known for his iconic role as Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies, pops up in a cameo as a priest and it's fun to see him in the movie.
Once we get to the exorcism scene, things pick up, though this movie tends to follow the formula that Friedkin's classic The Exorcist laid down way back when and it doesn't try to break the mold in that regard. Part of this stems back to the fact that it's more or less following the Rite Of Exorcism, so you're not really going to want to deviate from that so much, but the fact that Vavasseur's character vomits and insults her family and growls the way she does definitely bares an uncanny resemblance to what Linda Blair brought to her part in Friedkin's movie. The movie does work in a good plot twist towards the end but it doesn't take full advantage of what that plot twist offers in terms of story expansion so it never quit has the impact it could have.
The end result is a movie that entertains in spite of its flaws but which should have been a good bit more interesting and original than it was.
Exorcismus looks decent enough on this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or nasty edge enhancement but black levels do sometimes get a little bit murky and muddy looking. Skin tones generally fare well enough and color reproduction is good, resulting in a pretty pleasant looking image that shows only minor inconsistencies in terms of authoring quirks.
The sole audio track for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, though subtitles are provided in both English and Spanish. There isn't a ton of rear channel action here though some good channel separation is noticeable in the front of the mix. Generally levels are well balanced and dialogue is easy enough to understand. It won't floor you with its awesome sonic power but it gets the job done.
Extras are slim on this release. Aside from a theatrical trailer for the feature, we get a behind the scenes documentary that runs too short in order to offer up anything more than just some fleeting input from the filmmakers and a bit of behind the scenes footage. Menus and chapter stops are included.
Slow and overly preachy, Exorcismus is hardly essential viewing BUT if you're a fan of exorcism movies the film does feature pretty much all the requisite scenes you'd want from a movie of its ilk and it features some good production values. For that reason, you might want to check it out if you fall into that category, but considering the lack of extras on the disc, you're probably better off renting it first.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.