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John’s Horror Corner: Ava’s Possessions (2015), humorously addressing what happens “after” an exorcism…like support groups and warrants.

May 18, 2016

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MY CALL: A fine possession-themed horror comedy with enough good qualities to interest me in what the director does next. Featuring a great premise but shaky writing, it’s a nice little indie that explores legal consequences and support groups aimed at possession victims. MOVIES LIKE Ava’s Possessions: In terms of style, quality and merits, I’m reminded of the super low-budget Lo (2009)–which is an obscure one, I know, and pretty rough around the edges in terms of filmmaking. More appropriate dark horror comedies include The Voices (2014; darkest), Housebound (2014; pretty dark), He Never Died (2015; pretty dark) and Cooties (2015; light dark). Wanna’ get silly? Other horror comedies include Zombie Strippers (2008), Zombieland (2009), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Final Destination 5 (2011; not exactly comedy, but occasionally hilarious), Piranha 3DD (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Smothered (2014), Zombeavers (2014), Ava’s Possessions (2015), What We Do in the Shadows (2015), The Final Girls (2015), Krampus (2015; not exactly comedy, but occasionally hilarious), Love in the Time of Monsters (2015) and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015).

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Could this make-up be a nod to Beetlejuice?

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Meet Ava (Louisa Krause; The Abandoned, The Babysitters). Ava has just been exorcised and awakens to the harsh reality that often goes completely unaddressed in horror movies on the topic: so what happens now? You were possessed, the spirit has been banished, but you did some things and the real world packs consequences for our actions.

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There’s a most welcome dark dryness to the humor in this exorcism/possession satire and these scenes are truly precious when you think about it. Her mother (Deborah Rush; Orange is the New Black, The Box) and father (William Sadler; Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood, episode The Man Who was Death) come visit, make sure she’s eating enough…blame her possession on her use of marijuana. Ava asks if anyone called in sick for her during her weeks long possession. No? Probably out of a job. Want support from your friends? They’re probably afraid of you. And did you try to sleep with your besty’s boyfriend while that demon was inside you?

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And then we meet her wonderfully deadpan attorney JJ (Dan Fogler; Hannibal, Hellbenders), who illustrates that yes, she faces a lot of vandalism and assault charges from when she was rampaging the streets with the devil in her. It’s basically jail, or join a group a lot like AA but for possession victims: Spirit Possession Anonymous. Ava must now make amends with those she affected during her possession and take action to see that the spirit does not re-enter her. That’s the purpose of Spirit Possession Anonymous. Besides, even The Last Exorcism (2010) had a sequel–aptly named The Last Exorcism 2 (2013). SMH

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Another nice nod to Beetlejuice here.

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Written and directed by relative newcomer Jordan Galland (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead), this very low budget horror comedy comes with a healthy share of style. The staging and heavy-contrast colored lighting of some scenes smacks of a hybrid between a Broadway horror play and an episode of Tales from the Crypt. And like both, this film was clearly produced on a low budget…but it works just fine. At least for the first 30 minutes…

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Yes, that’s right. The first act of this film is good. I liked the opening style, meeting the characters and being introduced to the consequences of possession and the notion of a support group designed for it. The problem was that the story quickly spun into a mystery of sorts that found no sense of synthesis. Sure, I liked seeing John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos, The Iceman), Carol Kane (Scrooged, The Princess Bride) and Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), but their parts were over-filled with over-exposition delivered with uninspired dialogue. This mystery of murder and informant prostitutes started feeling like a bad episode of Silk Stalkings.

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This is where I have to say it. Jordan Galland, I like you as a director but I think you need someone else penning your scripts after you dream up your story. You have cool edgy ideas, but after the premise is painted your brush was stricken with acuity-warped palsy. I loved the first 30 minutes and then got lost in the stale convolution of the next 30 minutes. I found some redemption in the end where in a whirlwind of 15 minutes all the convoluted mess was explained in fine detail–but a little late to save the film. Galland’s story is a deep one–too bad it takes 75 minutes before you realize it. Leave some breadcrumbs along the way of the plot next time.

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There were enough good qualities here to leave me very interested in seeing what Galland does next. I just hope he’s not writing it alone and that someone gives him more of a budget. He made the budget work for him, but we would have benefited from better (and more frequent) gore or makeup. Overall, it’s a nice little indie!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. jack howe permalink
    June 22, 2016 11:41 am

    I really enjoyed this film, I thought it moved fast.and was a bit better written than John, but maybe I was just digging it a bit more. Horror, humor, sexy I I thought it was well written and cohesive with all the places this movie took me ! We agree, I can’t wait to see what Galland does next. l thought it was well cast, and JG got great performances in AP ! Def worth a watch !
    .

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Deathgasm (2015), the New Zealand horror comedy where Ash vs the Evil Dead brilliantly meets Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Zoombies (2016), a low budget zombedy using the Jurassic World playbook. | Movies, Films & Flix

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