Most of us whether religious or not are intrigued by exorcisms. They are filled with the unknown and the potential of evil – the ultimate evil. Director William Brent Bell’s (Stay Alvie) film is a pseudo documentary take on possession and exorcism. The story is said to have been inspired by true events.
In 1989 in the United States a 9-1-1 call is made by Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley). She claims to have killed three people. When the police arrive they do find Maria and three brutally murdered members of the clergy. Maria is arrested but found not criminally responsible due to her mental condition. For some unexplained reason Maria is transferred to a facility in Rome, Italy leaving behind her husband and her 8-year-old daughter, Isabella.
Isabella is now an adult and wants to know what happened to her mother. She had found out that the three murders occurred during an exorcism. The exorcism was taking place on her mother, Maria. Followed by a documentary filmmaker, Isabella travels to Rome to a school that teaches exorcism. There in one of the classes she meets a couple of members of the clergy, Father Ben Rawlings (Simon Quarterman) and Father David Keane (Evan Helmuth – Fever Pitch, Garfield), and speaks to them about her mother. They seem interested in the case, especially Father Ben Rawlings.
Gaining permission to visit her mother and film the meeting. Isabella is shocked at the condition of her mother. Maria is non responsive mostly. When she does speak it is in gibberish (Tongues?) and different accents. Plus she doesn’t seem to know who Isabella is. After a while she becomes very agitated and Isabella is about to leave when Maria says that she is a murderer of children and that what she did was against God’s will. Isabella is shocked that her mother somehow knew that she had an abortion a while back. It is information that Maria couldn’t have known.
When Isabella describes what happened to the two clergy, Father Ben is sure that Maria is possessed by multiple demons and that they should try to perform an exorcism on her. Father David is less convinced. The Catholic Church does not condone them and they could be excommunicated or worse – charged with a crime.
Very rarely does a horror film come out that critics do not rake through the muck. So that is not usually a good way to judge whether a horror film is worth the time. Horror is a genre that should just be judged on entertainment value and not story or character development. It’s just about being scared out of your wits and having fun at the same time.
This has that same feeling the The Blair Witch Project did. Poor hand held camera work, some pretty wooden “acting”, terribly corny dialogue, and some creepy scenes. The biggest complaint was about the ending. Yeah, it is not the greatest, but it isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen either.
If you are interested in a horror film with fairly low production values but doesn’t rely on cheap thrills or gore (there are some bloody scenes) rather it tries to creep you out in that old fashion kind of way.