Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Accidental Exorcist

Score Technician: Sean McConnell

You'd be forgiven if, when watching a movie titled the Accidental Exorcist, you were expecting an intense scene featuring William Hurt slipping on pea soup while watching some poor possessed sap masturbate with a religious implement and him saying something along the lines of, "But I'm not even an expert in exorcisms! I'm just a (insert something here that William Hurt would be believable doing)!" You would also be really old, because nobody under 30 knows who the hell William Hurt is. Which is why we've turned over Sector 5's latest to the nanobots because they don't give a damn about William Hurt, or whatever emojis millennials have invented to further eradicate the written word. Nanobots don't have feelings, they are just a highly complex algorithm uniquely calibrated for withering progressive judgment. Which means it's time to sit back and let the sweet science of specialized robot intelligence do their thing.
  • Starting your Exorcist movie with a quote from Einstein that we can only assume is tangentially connected to Exorcisms of the oopsie kind. = +5pts
  • Nothing says I’m ready to fight Satan quite like walking down a shadowy hallway the way Rocky did to fight Apollo. = +2pts
  • Not sure whether this “witch doctor” is fighting demons or a heroin addiction. = +2pts (Because fighting both are total bummers, man.)
  • Is there anything better than a brassy older broad who doesn’t have time for anyone and wears low-cut tops, smokes swisher sweets, and pounds scotch when hosting random heroin dealers—sorry, witch doctors—while bitching about how her daughter (who’s sitting right by her like a broken crab) “babbles” perverted shit? = -10pts (The short answer? Likely.)
  • Moving your mouth as if you’re avoiding kissing someone with Herpes Simplex-2 as a way to communicate deep and conflicted thought. = -3pts
  • Playing footsie with your witch doctor before he’s even begun to diagnose your daughter’s weirdly expressive stomach noises. = +2pts
  • Crying on the other side of the door after the witch doctor asks you to leave, thus leaving us unsure if you're crying about what’s about to happen to your daughter or that you failed to seduce the local heroin dealer—sorry, witch doctor—dammit! = -1pt
  • Mom didn’t say shit about the bruises on the face. Kind of makes you question whether or not this guy is an exorcist or a social worker. = +2pts (The bags under his eyes only confuse us more…)
  • Demon vomit in an exorcism movie. = -3pts
  • Commenting on how it smells like a kind of Campbell's soup. = -6pts
  • Tapping the forehead of the possessed. The Catholic equivalent of the demon bitch slap. = +4pts
  • I cleansed this girl’s soul and all I got was this lousy stigmata. = +2pts
  • Having a shitty landlord who happens to stop by and complain about how late the rent is, as well as every other group/ethnicity/sexual orientation, just to let us know where we stand on the plot and within society as a whole. = -2pts
  • Not counting your money before you do a job. = -3pts
  • Making sure you stop under a street lamp before your next client’s house so that everyone gets the Exorcist reference. = -3pts
  • Nothing says "go investigate this scene alone" quite like a cowering black child holding a bloody knife under a table who can’t speak. = +2pts
  • Giving mouth to mouth to a woman who appears to have drowned in the bloody bathtub her husband is sitting in. = +4pts (Because witch doctors don’t give a fuck!)
  • Remember kids, just say no…to the handsy (but thankfully only just possessed) reverend. -2pts
  • Shooting a scene in which a bunch of Trump supporters (we assume) say asshole things to the lone woman sitting at the bar. This will pay off eventually, right? These motherfuckers are gonna die bloody, right? Right?! TRUMP CAN'T POSSIBLY WIN, RIGHT!? RIGHT!? = -5pts
  • Having your lead pile on just because the lady doesn’t get your shitty Jaws reference. = -10pts
  • Possessing a body so that you can gnash your teeth only to shut them when you poor mom tries to feed you your favorite cake. = +5pts
  • At this point we’re pretty sure that the only qualification to be an exorcist is watching a lot of Steven Spielberg movies and having an incredibly deep knowledge of pop culture. = +25pts (Because…HOLY SHIT OUR TECHNICIANS ARE NOW QUALIFIED EXORCISTS!! Sweet, where’s the heroin! Seriously... Heroin. Now.)
  • Tossing a spoonful of mashed potatoes into the face of a possessed person who’s channeling your mother. = +10pts
  • Then sharing a meal with them. = +5pts
  • Shasta product placement. = +3pts
  • Arizona Tea product placement. = -3pts
  • Tossing a cream pie into the face of a demon and not even getting a wisp of icing/pie-filling on them. = -7pts
  • It’s like that old saying, “At some point we’re going to have to talk about the shadowy gimp in the room…” = +3pts
  • Sending a client out for a grocery run before you exorcise his brother. = +2pts
  • Now you see me, now you… see me slowly rolling—I mean, floating—out of the way of your demon tap. = +5pts
  • You know that other saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it?” Well, our witch doctor doesn’t. We assume this is why improv exorcists are not a real thing. = -2pts
  • James Wan may not have directed this movie, but he definitely gets a shout-out on many occasions. = +5pts (As he should.)
  • Possessed brother comes out of the fog and acts up a storm. = +3pts (Get this guy an agent, stat.)
  • Letting your corporate overlords have a piece of your mind after they’ve tricked you into a two-for-one deal. = +6pts
  • Speaking into a mirror as a way of building pathos. = -5pts
  • Insulting a Burger King bathroom. = -2pts (I mean, have you even been to an Arby’s?)
  • Movies have plots, right? = No score, just a legitimate question at this point.
  • Trading your exorcism movie in for your version of Office Space. = +5pts
  • Coming back to your original movie in the next scene. = -5pts (Being a temp is lame.)
  • The puppet-room. = +10pts
  • The best way to make puppets less scary is to talk about how unscary they are, thus reminding us that being scared of puppets is, like, super lame. = -5pts
  • Starting every exorcism with a personal anecdote as a way to deliver small chunks of exposition. = +3pts (For the first time…)
  • Starting every exorcism with a personal anecdote as a way to deliver small chunks of exposition. = -6pts (…for every time after.)
  • Realizing too late that much of that exposition wasn't actually exposition, because exposition supports plots. And, at this point, a plot is kind of beside the point. = -10pts (Because that should never be the case in a genre movie. Otherwise why make a genre movie?)
  • Saving your liquor bottles after you’ve finished drinking from them. = -3pts  (During college +5pts; Post college -10pts)
  • Explaining what’s painfully obvious to the Goth girl who wandered into your redneck bar. = -2pts
  • Beating the shit out of a hipster who gives you crap for the beer you’re ordering. = +10pts
  • Non-conning a drunken Exorcist. = -10pts
  • Vomiting up black bile on a goth chick mid-bang… = -3pts
  • …while also blurkeling out your Johnson… = -3pts
  • …during a massive smash-up of your room… =+3pts
  • ...that culminates with your burning up all your demon selfies. = +3pts (Or as we like to call it: Florida.)
Total Score: +22pts

First things first, the production crew of this movie should get a lot of credit for what they brought to this movie. There's a really great low-budget horror movie waiting to emerge from the people who provided the make-up, sets pieces, and generally creepy cinematography. Those moments when our saggy lead walks into the rooms of the possessed are generally unsettling. The one in the bathroom is particularly chilling, as it provides a solid jump scare that slowly unpacks as your eyes adjust to what you are seeing. Those moments are top notch. But sadly, by the end of the movie you feel like you've just visited the furniture store of horror movies. A film full of Pottery Barn themed rooms removed from whatever imaginary house of horrors you've built in your mind. The results is a film that's more about the set pieces than the engine of plot, which is great in a Terrence Malick movie, but can be excruciating in a genre movie, especially a horror one.

The lead actor/director (by choice or by budget) is forced to carry too much of the movie. While there are things he does well, the utter lack real secondary characters proves to be a bit too much weight to put on one man's shoulders. He could have used some help. A real person to talk to would have been great.

All of this is somewhat tragic because, with such a great title, you're first thought rushes to, "How?" (Because the use of "accidental" is very intriguing when paired with exorcisms and surely must be important and not a pop culture pun in a movie that seems to make one too many references to pop culture, both in word and in visuals.) How is a great question. An important one. It leads us to the "Why?" question, which is the engine of most plot and character development. If you expect more how's and why's from your horror movies, then perhaps this movie isn't your cup of tea. But if you're interested in what low-budget horror means in the age of digital filmmaking, then there are a few lessons to be learned by watching this one, both good and bad.

3 comments:

  1. It was difficult to what happens at the end of the movie. Was he in Hell all along or does he actually die and is led to hell by the black demon figure that is shown throughout the movie, that he seems to believe is not real? because at the end, he proclaims that, "So, you're real after all". Any ideas someone?

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, we have no idea. The nanobots were never given enough plot to make an accurate determination. Your suggestion is likely, however it could be just as likely that they chose to end that movie that way because they could.

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  2. I actually liked this movie. I haven't liked an exorcism movie since the exorcist, but this one was good. The lead is both believable and interesting. He's not doing this out of faith or calling. But because he can, and it's pretty much all he can do.
    The thing I don't get is the end. Is he dead cause he burned up in the fire, is he hallucinating it? Why did he all of a sudden get possessed when before he couldn't? I feel like this movie needs a sequel. Something bigger budget. The concept and a lot of the scenes are great. It just needs to be brought together a little better.

    Also the bar scenes were funny. If you ever been to a local bar, you know they have a specific culture and the regulars that go there enjoy it. That chick at the bar got her moment when she hooked up with the other chick.
    Anyway, I thought it was a good movie. I just wanted to have a better idea of what was going on at the end.

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