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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blackwater Valley Exorcism (2006)

Blackwater Valley Exorcism (2006) - This straight to DVD gem is a basic exorcism story with a twist. Oh wait a minute don't they all have a twist these days, the dead twin in The Unborn (2009) with its Jewish exorcism, the pastor with doubts in trying to be seduced by the demon in the girl like Enter the Devil (1974) and the long slower The Antichrist (1974), there is the priest who lost faith like in The Exorcist and  The Last Exorcism (2010), but this one unfortunately does not live up to any of these films. Heck these are only the ones I reviewed, this area of horror is well worn and does not easily see new and inventive ideas. So what you have to do when you make a possession film is add an unexpected twist or combine it with another idea, like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) where it is part exorcism movie part courtroom drama.
This film attempts to complicate the exorcism with interpersonal relationships but really comes up short leaving a jumbled mess of melodramatic tension, a poorly set up twist and a lot of overly dramatic projection by the actors. The writing was jarring in its distribution of exposition, and the dialog confounds the viewer to buy into the believability of almost all the characters. Writer Ellary Eddy tries but just does not seem effective enough at this point to put together a decent script. I get that Eddy was going for the emotional power of the relationships these people have through their history together.  In a  small community where people have known, laughed, loved, fought and cheated it could be a backdrop for the secondary side of dealing with the plot of the film. It just was not well executed.
 Early in the film we see the strange behavior of Isabelle (Kristin Erickson) the younger daughter of Eli (Randy Colton) and Blanche (Leslie Fleming-Mitchell). She is acting strangely and they are not sure how to handle it. Theirs is a relationship where they have drifted apart and because of that can't effectively deal with their daughters issues. Then there is Jacob (Cameron Daddo) the town priest who of course has has trouble with his father and fealty to the church. He is a flawed character who will have to overcome his weaknesses to save the girl. His history with the older sister Claire (Madison Taylor) is instrumental to the script but under developed and comes as a WTF moment when revealed. Finishing out the main players is farm hands Luke (Paul Kapellas) and Miguel (Del Zamora). In what is a wasted part in the film the great horror actor Jeffrey Combs is a cameo as the local Sheriff.
  Of these actor only Daddo and Zamora stand out, but unfortunately some of the lines they have to deliver are just painful. It was really hard to tell if the acting was bad or if director Ethan Wiley was trying for the soap opera style of acting. It could be that because the script has the demon though Isabelle influence the decisions and emotions of the cast that he was going for a overly dramatized style. So when Eli (Colton) who was so over the top,  delivered his vitriolic attacks on the other characters, the director wanted it to seemed like the demon was heightening the emotions of every interaction. It could also be that it was just sub par acting on a sub par script.
  Demons being demonee means that as we have seen in many exorcism movies before, it is going to expose the weakness of each character. The relationship between Eli and Blanche where he suspects she cheated on him with friend and town veterinarian McCall (Don Knowlton). Miguel who is recruited for his former experience with an exorcism is forced to relive the slaughter of his family and the guilt he still carries for his part in not keeping them safe. Then there is Jacob, a truly flawed individual who appears in the past,  to have loved Claire and also been ever so tempted by the showering Isabelle.
 When the twist happens and none of the above is a twist it is bizarre that the film gets to where it ends up. All along the way you are forced to question characters behavior and if you don't buy that the Demon is affective that behavior then you are just going to think they are stupid shallow people who get what they deserve. The twist comes out of no where with almost no setup and then the conclusion is equally unsatisfying.
  Overall this film struck me as bad, some of the cinematography was good but the practical effects on the possessed Isabelle were not up to par. Hopefully makeup artist Shyann Swisher has improved since then. This film with all its flaws can not be recommended. Even though I have a love for a lot of bad horror I can't even give this film a recommendation as a good laugh. Mostly it just left me a bit pissed off that I wasted the time going all the way to the end.
Rating(2.2) 5.0 and up are recommended , some more recommended than others.

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