Agnes @ Fantasia Film Festival

Demonic possession set in the religious world. We’ve seen it all before, haven’t we? Here is another one. You definitely go into it thinking what else could director/co-writer Mickey Reece (Me and Ichikawa, Suedehead) bring to the table? Or hoping that he could bring something new to a sub-genre in the horror world which was begging for something new and scary.

Being on his way to becoming a priest, Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) is asked to accompany his former mentor, Father Donaghue (Ben Hall – Minari), along to a convent where there were rumours about a demonic possession. Father Donaghue, who is in the midst of his own crisis and is going to be sent far away by the church, goes with Benjamin begrudgingly. Meaning he does not believe that Sister Agnes (Hayley McFarland – The Conjuring, An American Crime) is actually possessed.

Soon after arriving, Father Donaghue understands that he is in over his head as Agnes is indeed possessed by some powerful and evil entity. He calls in a supposed expert in the field, Father Black (Chris Browning – Cowboys & Aliens, Terminator: Salvation), who believes in one session he has exorcised the demon. Big mistake. Terror and trauma ensue.

As you might expect, the film is completely over-the-top. The subject matter demands it. Everyone buys in. Actors chew scenery. Sets – especially when it comes to depictions of the Catholic Church – focus on excess.

Though it most certainly is a horror film there is a deep, dark vein of humour that runs throughout. Makes fun of the usual devices/themes of religiously based horror films. Tongue firmly in all cheeks.

Around the middle point of the film, it is like we veer off into something which is akin to a completely different film. Now we follow Sister Mary (Molly C. Quinn – from television’s Castle) and follow her on her journey. See how her faith has been shaken over what happened at the convent. This part is not as successful as the straight up horror part. Seems like Reece bit off more than he could chew here. Whereas the laughs and horror worked, the sentimentality doesn’t because it is not anchored in anything. Left adrift without the required character development or time required.

Then there is the ending. What? I mean….was that really the end? Nope, doesn’t work.

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