26th May2017

‘American Exorcism’ VOD Review

by Joel Harley

Stars: Michael Filipowich, Kate Tumanova, William McKinney, Jessica Morris, Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Braxton Davis, Sicily Fontaine, John Paul Sales, Luke Wright | Written and Directed by Tripp Weathers

us-exorcism-cover

Retired demon wrangler Damon Richter is pulled back into the game when his estranged daughter is possessed by the spirit responsible for destroying his life and family. Together with his ex-priest pal, the bearded, tattooed beach bum sets about putting his own supernatural abilities to good use. That is, of course, when he isn’t busy posing moodily and glowering from beneath his impressive beard, like an over-filtered Instagram celebrity.

Of all the horror subgenres, few lend themselves to low budget quite like the exorcism movie. Sure, there’s room for all the fancy special effects, pea soup and levitating demons that money can buy, but all you really need to make it work is a bed, some chains and a profanity-laced script. This in turn, unfortunately, means that finding the gems amidst such a mixed bag can be a real chore. For every From a House on Willow Street, Ouija 2 or The Conjuring 2 (to name but a few recent, good demonic possession movies) there’s at least two or three films like American Exorcism.

To its credit, in terms of story, it attempts something a little different from your usual garden variety exorcism. Exorcist Bro Richter is positioned more as a Keanu Reeves, Constantine-esque, action antihero than priest and the opening plays as such, before his wife is possessed (and ultimately killed) by the very demon he was there to exorcise. Fast forward ten years, and Richter is retired, living on a beach and wearing his hair in a silly man-bun.

The hair is far from his silliest affectation though. The atypical exorcising continues as Richter eschews the usual “power of Christ compels you” routine in favour of off-brand kung-fu poses, daft noises (like a cross between Tom Hardy and Bruce Lee) and CGI glowing hands and manifestations, like a (very) cheap Doctor Strange. On the one hand, this is a welcome departure from cliché, but on the other, it’s difficult to ever take seriously. The acting is amateur level across the board, and the writing is all characters screaming and swearing at each other in place of real drama. And not even good swearing – it disappoints in the inventive demonic profanity department too.

Packing guns, getting into physical fights with the afflicted, and screaming nonsense into their faces; if this is what makes for an “American” exorcism, we’ll stick with the Vatican way, thanks. Amusing but never compelling, American Exorcism is hardly worth getting all patriotic about.

American Exorcism is available on VOD now. The film hits DVD in the US on August 1st, courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.

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