Carballo's take on exorcism genre creepily satisfyingJune 20, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
A new horror film on DVD actually delivers the creepy goods and is featured in this edition of the DVD review column.
Horror films, like other movie genres, tend to follow trends and lately there have been two dominating types of stories: vampires and zombies.
I don't have to tell you but I will that the re-interpretation of the vampire legend in both television and film production have led to a small industry for the bloodsuckers.
I'm a purist. I like my vampires to be evil and I like my stories to be morality plays with a slice of vampire-taking action. All of this "Twilight" soap opera stuff isn't for me, but for many people making the vampire into some lonely romantic figure with a bad habit has certainly worked.
The other hot horror film genre featuring zombies owes its birth to director George Romero whose "Night of the Living Dead" essentially created the mythology of the flesh eating undead. Before that film, zombies were just stumbling meat robots under the control of some mastermind pretty boring.
I think the zombie films offer filmmakers the extreme gross-out potential and the venue for some black humor and both have proven to be pretty popular with horror fans.
I must admit that just having some greyish looking guy chomping on a stray leg can get fairly monotonous.
One genre that pops up from time to time is the exorcism film. Recent additions to that type of film have included "The Rite" and "The Last Exorcism." Frankly every film dealing with a fight between Christianity and the devil owes much of its existence to William Friedkin's seminal film "The Exorcist."
The problem with any exorcism film is that it must follow the conventions of the genre the affliction of an innocent victim, the struggles the priests have and the question of whether or not the devil had really been defeated and still try to present something new.
Spanish director Manuel Carballo and writer David Mu oz have walked that tightrope successfully and have made a film that will satisfy the requirements of the genre while delivering something new.
Sophie Vavasseur plays Emma, a home-schooled 15 year-old who is feeling rebellious. She starts exhibiting some odd and disturbing behaviors, which her parents initially chalk up to being a teen. When she goes into a state of shock and begins levitating off the floor, though, they understand something else is happening.
Her parents turn to Emma's uncle, a priest who had been involved in what became an unofficial and botched exorcism. With some reluctance, he begins the rites to drive the demon out that is in Sophie. To answer critics and skeptics, he videotapes the rituals.
Up until this point, the film is a well made, but fairly standard, representative of the genre, but then a series of events followed by a truly mind-blowing revelation propels this film onto a new level.
I'm not going to reveal any plot twists as I want readers to be as blown away as I was.
Carballo keeps the special effects and any typical horror film trappings to a minimum, which gives every shock he presents the maximum voltage.
The performances are well done and Vavasseur carries the film well.
This is a solidly made, genuinely creepy film that I highly recommend.