Judge David Johnson was once possessed by a demonic spirit. They parted ways, but it was amicable.
There is no escape when the Devil is inside you.
Can yet another exorcism movie bring something to the table that we haven't seen before in preceding exorcisms movies? The power of God compels me to say no!!!
Facts of the Case
A young girl named Isabelle (Kristin Erickson) gets a dose of demonic possession when an evil little bastard assumes control of her body and proceeds to toy with anyone ballsy enough to tangle with its hellfire mojo. It all starts when Miguel, the kindly farmhand, finds Isabelle wandering the woods, her face and hands covered the blood of the rabbit she just devoured.
He rushes her back home, where her condition gradually degrades: her skin grows paler, his lips get more chapped and her eyes take on that glazed look of…well, of someone getting her possession on. The sheriff, doctor and family members all try to figure out what's going on with the disturbed girl, but it takes the expertise of Miguel the farmhand to realize the obvious, and convince Isabelle's idiot parents to call in the local priest.
That man is Jacob (Cameron Daddo), a weak-willed nebbish of a holy man who harbors serious doubts about the nature of demon possession. But after meeting Isabelle, who tries to seduce him through some kind of telepathic shower scene, Jacob realizes it's time to get into exorcism mode…and let the healing begin.
Yawn. Blackwater Valley Exorcism is a chore, and doesn't contain a lick of shock value or ingenuity. For those wanting the quick and dirty lowdown, here it is: BVE is boring and not worth a look.
So, why does it implode? The biggest reason for me was the poor writing and even worse line delivery, with the lack of scares running a close second. The acting just wasn't very good, and several scenes evoked a laugh here or there when it was obvious we were supposed to be in the realm of "heart-felt emotion." Ethan Wiley's direction of the scenes did little to help the situation as the camera frequently remained static, playing over characters as they spilled forth their expository dialogues; one setup just had Miguel and Jacob standing, smoking and going on and on about an uninteresting story and the only reason it existed, I submit, was because some financiers thought the cigarette smoke and the frozen breath looked cool together. It didn't.
Let's talk about the meat of the film—the exorcism. It's weird to say, but the idea of a girl layered in makeup spouting gibberish in Latin and taunting her elders has ceased to be intriguing. Really, once a girl rubs a crucifix in her crotch while shrieking blasphemy, where else can you go? Nowhere remotely interesting in this case. Kristin Erickson gives it her all, and has certainly studied her canon, but nothing about her performance or character will stay with you thirty seconds after the end credits roll. She talks her trash, acts slutty (I think it's official Catholic dogma that Hell is a damn horny place), contorts her body in several misshapen forms and so on and so forth. It's all boilerplate and fails to deliver anything approaching dread or unease. Which is a shame, because I tend to get wigged out by religious horror, but BVE couldn't land the deal.
Lastly, there is much ado made about the fact that spectacle was based on an actual event and how the filming was supervised by a Catholic bishop. Well, it must have been loosely based, because there's no way that the twisting demon conspiracy that plays out in the film really happened; and about that bishop supervision thing—it sounds cool, but the guy makes an appearance on the making-of documentary and he looks less like an imposing exorcist who makes the incubi of Hell tremble in fear and more like a guy who plays in a Def Leppard cover band and lives out of his van.
Video: so-so 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen that suffers form some washed-out moments. Audio: 5.1 surround that is wasted on what is first and foremost a talky picture. Bonus features: a director's commentary, a mediocre 25-minute making-of documentary and trailers.
Take two of these and call me in the morning (he says as he hands the accused small, cross-shaped aspirin and a glass of Holy Water).
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Director's Commentary
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.