Tag Archives: possession

The Forsaken (2016) – film review

K, lets get one thing straight right off the bat. This isn’t the 2015 western starring Kiefer Sutherland and Demi Moore. Neither is it the 2001 Australian vampire movie starring, well, nobody you will have heard of. It is, in fact, a brand-spanking new release from Justin Price, best known for last year’s Dark Moon Rising. You might say it’s a new film with an old title, but let’s try not to get judgemental. Not yet, anyway. They had to call it something. On review sites and message boards it has been drawing comments like ‘Completely unwatchable,’ and ‘Worst movie ever!’ which kinda piqued my interest a little. Surely it can’t be that bad? Folk on the internet can be really mean sometimes. I thought at the very least, it might fall into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category.

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As a rule I’m not a big fan of possession films. Boring. Every single one of them follows the Exorcist blueprint – Person gets possessed, someone calls a priest, priest unpossesses person. They usually have a touch of difficulty along the way, just to fill the paper-thin plot out a little. There is invariably some swearing, vomiting, flying Bibles, and more often that not, some walking backwards up walls and shit. But in the end, good triumphs over evil, you breathe a sigh of relief, and move on with your life.

This latest Forsaken stars David E Cazares as a priest with jowls and sad puppy-dog eyes, a rebellious daughter, and a gravely ill wife who may or may not be possessed. I know, just what you need, right? I mean, the guy comes home one day and finds his missus cooking pieces of her arms in a frying pan for dinner. Obviously, something has to be done. But this is where the priest gets it completely wrong and starts looking for help in some of the sketchiest places imaginable. There are a few jumpy moments, and for a low-budget flick the make-up and effects are pretty impressive. However, even for one so simple, the plot is a bit muddled. All the flashbacks and dream sequences are distracting and worst of all, sad, puppy-dog eyed priest insists on fumbling around in the dark, whispering all his dialogue and crying all the time. Come on, dude! Put the damn light on, have a shit, shower and a shave, sort yourself out and man the fuck up. In days of old this would be a straight-to-video release. Now it’s probably going straight to your nearest streaming device, where it will no doubt stay, neglected and Forsaken.

This review originally appeared in the FREE Morpheus Tales supplement

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Film Review – The Atticus institute (2015)

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From the producers of the Conjuring and Annabelle, comes a new addition to the recent fad of possession movies. Scientists involved in a 1970’s research project looking into ESP and related phenomena stumble across Judith (played by Rya Kihlstedt, of Deep Impact fame) whose abilities far transcend anything they have encountered before. They gleefully set about testing her and documenting the results, but it doesn’t take long for them to realise that rather than someone displaying impressive feats of telekinesis, what they are really dealing with is a severe case of demonic possession. The entity makes its presence known in a variety of subtle and non-subtle ways and soon, the military come knocking in an attempt to harness and eventually weaponise the demon’s power. Predictably, that’s when things get really out of hand. Sometimes, guns and bullets just aren’t enough.

Written and directed by Chris Sparling, writer of the 2010 underground (sorry, couldn’t resist) smash hit Buried, the Atticus Institute unfolds through a series of interviews-to-camera interspersed with segments of laboratory footage, giving it a gritty and decidedly intense feel. The result is terrifyingly realistic, and Sparling works the tension impeccably as it builds to an horrific climax. Poor Judith spends the vast majority of the film strapped in a chair squirming around and speaking in tongues, whilst being shouted at and receiving electric shock therapy. By the end you actually end up feeling a bit sorry for her/it and begin questioning who the victim really is in all this. As any news report will tell you, this is kind of unrestrained overkill is typically what happens when western governments come up against an enemy they don’t fully understand.

Though this is one of the few possession movies that doesn’t claim to be based on a actual events, I have a sneaking suspicion the genesis of the story is based on the US government’s Stargate Project and it’s derivatives, operations set up in the 1970’s to investigate psychic phenomena in response to muted Soviet projects of a similar ilk. One of the main focuses of the Stargate Project was remote viewing, something of obvious military significance, which is alluded to several times in the Atticus Institute. Though the Stargate Project was (allegedly) closed down in 1995 amid claims that it wasn’t effective enough to make it viable, the bulk of the data that was collected has never been made available to the public, so who knows what evidence might be gathering dust in a vault somewhere?

The original version of this review is featured in the Morpheus Tales supplement, available HERE:


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