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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Legion: The Final Exorcism (2006) Horror Demon

Legion: The Final Exorcism (2006) aka "Costa Chica, Confessions of an Exorcist"- The pre-credits scenes were promising with the girl being possessed by a demon at the family pig sty.  Here mother discovering her had some nice quick cut imagery. Definitely showing that this is a lower budget production but that the creators have some imagination and skill for creating scary flashes even if there seemed to be a lack of patients to really let them develop. As we go into the credits we get the (dreaded) voice over from former Priest Michael San Chica (David Heavener) telling us that demons are running amok in the word and he can see them coming and is just the guy to exorcise them. Not only that but we quickly learn that he has been threatened by the church with excommunication for doing these rituals without consent. He is in a tough spot because he has visions that tell him when someone is possessed and the "angel" that appears is persistent that he needs to get involved. What's an honest priest to do? On top of this is the back story where he loses his family to demons. I am sure the intent is to deepen the internal drive for main character. This haunting will be what drives him forward with the current situation.
  Heavener is the force behind this film, the writer and director this is his project. An Actor, Producer and Director he has a a list of credits that at least the IMDB users seem not to like very much. This film starring Heavener as the main character also includes Roddy Piper, Ariel Teal Toombs, Lee Benton, Jackeline Olivier, to name a few. One can say this film is not quite as low budget as it seems. Made for 1.5 millions in today's scheme of things in the horror would this is a decent budget. The choice then to make a film that uses voice over as a way tell us a story while at the same time showing us what the voice over is relating is a bit of a strange choice. Is it he is a detective telling us about a case? Also considering how many times we have had the demon possession story told it is incredibly difficult to be original. The mechanics of this tale are not original but really live in the cliche that we have seen many times before. I suppose that the use of the voice over, the chronicling via San Chica is what Heavener thought was new and original but really just comes across as stating the obvious.
  He tells the story of Tatiana (Ariel Teal Toombs) who is part of a religious family, a Minister Father and a family that has no idea what to do with the events happening. They try to explain it away  as mental illness or epilepsy but will soon have to deal with the very real possession. We don't really stick with this story as the narrative, instead following the San Chica character around as this is a vehicle for Heavener to perform. He is not just trying to solve Tatiana's case but it is all tied up in the loss of his his family and his idea that there was a conspiracy to cover up his wife's demonic possession.
   The voice over really pulls the story apart, instead of building mood through the things the film does do well, flash imagery and music and sound. It tells the viewer exactly what should be felt which makes no  sense, Let the characters and story build the tension don't explain it. Once at the McMurter's ranch Father San Chica has enough visions to know something is going on. As the film moves along in this manor it became more difficult to focus on it. Heavener really is using the v. o. as a way to make the story more of a procedural but to less than positive results. Instead of leading us through the story heightening the plot with the v.o. it makes it seem like one really long slow buildup to the exorcism. It does not help that there are so many cliches thrown at us. Like the disbelieving father who as a minister himself does not trust the Catholic ritual. Then there is the worker at the morgue eating while working on corpses, how many times have we seen that? Thrown in is the cardboard portrayal of Venessa (Jackeline Olivier) another morgue worker with a shoehorned in relationship with San Chica, she loves him and wants him to back away from this case. Still primarily this is a procedural with the priest as the hard boiled detective telling us about the case as they show bits and pieces of it.
   When we finally get to the exorcism its self  a full three quarters of the way through the film we have no idea what to think of this film. It has been a meditative slow burn up to this point and as a viewer the wish for some sort of action is strong. Still though very little happens, sure there is swelling music as San Chica's past starts leeching into the present. He is spoken to by the pig that says it is Legion and is his enemy. WTF! Even after the exorcism starts it is completely broken up by the subplots around San Chica, his relationship with Venessa and his family history. These scenes are mixed in with cliche exorcism scenes where unlike better movies the director didn't think actually doing an exorcism really is what the viewer wants. So there are these 15-30 second scenes of the demon showing itself and the priest praying, cut with the other characters comforting each other or explaining what an exorcism is. Straight from the original "The Exorcist" father Michael asks the demon to take him but then he walks out of the room as the demon agrees just to have a heart to heart with Tatiana's step father. The final 15 minutes is ruined by this approach and so when the final 20 second confrontation between the demon Incubus and San Chica happens it is beyond underwhelming. Never getting to build any momentum the film ends with an explanatory voice over and thus an underwhelming experience was had by all.

NOTE: This year's experiment will be to follow a bunch of people whose movies I see this year. In my twitter account @Soresport I have currently 6 followers and follow 5 people so this will be an interesting little test to see if following people actually increases your own followers.

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