Friday, July 31, 2015



Label: IFC Midnight
Region Code: 1 

Duration: 83 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Seth Grossman
Cast: Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, Kate Whitney, Brian Flaherty, Colleen McGrann, Christopher Parker 

Demon possession and found-footage have been around for awhile now, apparently in the minds of young filmmakers they go together like peanut butter and chocolate,  but most of them just aren't that great in my opinion. I typically proceed with caution coming into these found-footage movies, which might be unfair, but once you've been burned numerous times by a well-worn trend you'd be foolish not, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on me, as they say. 

The movie has a pretty standard set-up, a teenage drug addict Carson (Lara Vosburgh) is followed by a documentary crew whom are there to document how the teen went from straight-a Catholic schoolgirl to straight-up heroin addict. After a few days of observing her behaviors at home and interviewing friends and family she agrees to committed to a rehab facility. The documentary producer thinks they've struck ratings gold when she announces that she believes herself to be a  victim of demon possession. The producer is just so excited about this turn of events, of course she doesn't believe Carson is demon-possessed, she chalks it up to drug-induced weirdness, but she is absolutely ready to exploit Carson illness just the same. 

This is very much how I imagine these type of reality-based TV programs are, I imagine HLN's Nancy Grace waking up each morning and reading the newspaper, wringing her hands with delight when another child is victimized or murdered, because without the misery of the world these people would have very little to do with themselves, they hunger for and feast upon how awful the world can be, and that is why I despise those types of "news" programs. 

Once Carson is admitted to the rehab facility we meet her fellow addicts, a collection of junkies, pill-poppers and sex addicts who welcome her into the group, but sort of turn on her when she confesses she might be demon-possessed. Perhaps unsurprisingly these junkies, each going through their own drug withdrawal, can be a surly bunch, but I probably would too if someone started pulling my darkest secrets from out of nowhere and sharing them with my recovery group, which happens in a very Exorcist sort of way during a group meeting.

As the movie plays out we get some back story about Carson's home life, like the fact that her father is a recovering alcoholic with anger management issues, and how those might feed into the young woman's own issues. Later a school friend reveals the possible origins of her addiction and strange behavior, which of course has been caught on-camera.  A production assistant on the crew named Jason (Morgan McClellan) seems to be the only one who believes that there could be something to this demon possession things after all, his character is set-up early on as someone who might be drawn towards troubled woman, and he's got his work cut out for him with Carson, whom he develops a fondness for. 

I could never quite get a good read on the parents, if they believed it or not, but the rest of the documentary team and the doc at the rehab certainly don't. Of course the foreign nurse at the rehab clinic recognizes the signs of possession, in a very stereotyped portrayal with her coming from a primitive culture of course she would believe in such things, and is fired when she performs an impromptu cleansing. 

Most of the documentary crew are very minor characters, even Jason seems somewhat unneeded, and the feeling her develops for Carson come on a bit too fast, it goes from curiosity about her to overly emotional attachment in a heartbeat, it felt forced, but it didn't ruin it for me, just annoyed me.  

As a documentary style found-footage film we have plenty of the typical cam-footage that is captured both hand-held and from the POV of wall-mounted security cameras, plus an MTV Real World-styled confessional camera, all of which capture the ebb and flow of Carson's decent into demonic possession. At times she struggles to fight the influence, other times the evil inside takes over and she begins to exhibit more violent and strange behaviors, some of which are quite violent, nearly biting off the fingers of the film crew at one point. 

Lara Vosburgh is pretty great in the role of the troubled teen addict, she carries the film and does a balances the troubled teen struggling with addiction and demon possession about as well as I could imagine, I don't think I rolled my eyes even once, and that's a god sign. 
Things build to a decent finale with an appropriately freaky, violent and abrupt ending to the course of events, for those who have seen even just a handful of found-footage movies there are very few surprises to be had in my opinion, but it is well-assembled and the family drama and bizarre happening kept me tuned it right up to the end despite a sort of slow beginning. 3.5/5