Written and Directed by: Michael Penney (@MichaelPenney)
Produced by: Chris Miles and Afterlight Films (@yeahritemovie)
Joshua Peace (Pacific Rim)
Melanie Scrofano (Edwin Boyd, Saw VII, Nurse 3D)
Toby Proctor (To Catch a Killer)
Deborah Grover (Bag of Bones)
This Exorcism Comedy is the first short from Canadian production company Afterlight Films. It tells the story of one of the first exorcisms performed by a licensed professional who also happens to be an atheist. The non-believer, Stu, along with his visually impaired sidekick, Father Lewis, travel to the home of a possessed teenager to rid her of a supposed demon, or at least expose her false theatrics.
Opening with a cleverly placed title showcasing our giant “Jesus Loves You” cross right here in Niagara, we follow them through some truly gorgeous shots as they make their way into the countryside. Upon arrival, Stu and Father Lewis make their way up to the old country house and are quickly greeted by a sweet Italian woman. Exhausted and wounded, showing notable scars on her chest and neck, she motions upstairs to the bedroom where her granddaughter lies asleep. They make their way up the stairs and enter the room where once-sweet Jenny lay, only now to find a crusty looking demon full of rage, or in Stu’s opinion, a puberty stricken teenager lashing out for attention. From here a horrifying amount of comedy ensues!
So this isn’t exactly a horror film, but it takes something every horror fan loves – demonic possession – and pokes fun at it in a respectful way. You have this eccentric sceptic Stu (played by Joshua Peace) who refuses to buy any of this crap. He has an explanation for everything and his faith in non-faith is so strong that his disregard of demon antics and the quick-paced banter with himself winds up annoying the demon and wearing it down. Josh Peace was excellent; this role seemed to be a natural fit as his tone and timing were spot on. His interaction with the Demon, portrayed by Melanie Scrofano, was very enjoyable to watch.
The effects were great, albeit one may have had a slight cheese factor, but it really works considering the tone of the film. Father Lewis (Toby Proctor) and Margaret/Nona (Deborah Grover) were both excellent. Their interactions with the arrogant atheist were highly amusing. Everyone played off each other really well and that speaks volumes to the fantastic script and direction of Michael Penney. There are definitely conflicting opinions and questions that regard religion and the existence of good and evil within the theme of this film, but each side was fairly represented. The people who believed were true to their beliefs and the ones that didn’t were true their disbelief. Either way, it didn’t change the fact that evil exists and with people by your side, no matter what their reasons/background/approach, you can overcome it. Plus, it was friggin’ funny, so relax and enjoy!
Funded by BravoFact!, it’s an extremely fun film, and between the tight script and performances it was a pleasure to watch. With a runtime of about 16 minutes, our only qualm was that some of the shots took one beat too many and it could have been tightened up just a bit-but that’s not a big enough issue to effect our score. We would definitely watch it again. It’s the perfect film for us to play prior to our feature on a Monster Movie Monday, so we advise you to check it out. It premièred at the Calgary International Film Festival on September 22nd and 24th of this year. Their next stop on the festival circuit will be their American première this coming Monday October 8th at the Quad Cinema in NYC, as part of the Gotham Screen 2012 New York International Film Festival. If you are in the area and interested in checking it out, it plays as part of the Short Selections II programme at 8:45pm and you can purchase tickets HERE.
We were also able to include this film as the Special Feature in our most recent podcast which will be posted next Thursday (Oct. 11th) so check back and give it a listen!
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