One of the most popular genres of horror, and one that has been literally terrifying generations of movie goers for years now, is the Exorcism movie. Possession itself is a massive part of horror even as it often occurs in films that we tend to forget about being directly associated with ‘possession’. Classic horrors such as ‘The Shining’, ‘Evil Dead’ and even ‘Paranormal Activity’ all feature possessions from unseen ghostly or demonic forces but can never truly be pigeon-holed into the exorcism genre. There’s a definite religious requirement and a few clichés you definitely need to slip in there to warrant the official label. With the arrival of writer/director Jeff Chan’s new chilling horror ‘Grace: The Possession’, which is now available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, we decided to take a look at just a mere sample of some of the other impressive horrors that fall into this popular category.
THE EXORCIST (1973)
The granddaddy of all exorcism-themed horror outings is of course William Friedkin’s genre defining triumph ‘The Exorcist’. Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty this no holds barred, and particularly disturbing, feature was released over 40 years ago and includes a whole host of terrifying imagery and truly unforgettable scenes of unsettling terror. Although caked in controversy mostly due to its religious subject matter and for the infamous horrors that the 12-year old Regan in the movie had to deal with. This gave the movie a somewhat overhyped notoriety which ultimately led to its ban in multiple countries for many years. Even 40 years on this classic still has all the groundbreaking hallmarks of a fantastic and frightening horror.
THE LAST EXORCISM (2010)
‘The Exorcist’ first made its appearance in 1973 and it became a true benchmark for how the subject of exorcisms would be dealt with in the future of the horror genre. But as the years go on rehashing the same old formulas and familiar tropes doesn’t exactly inspire audiences. As much as audiences have well established expectations of this type of movie there’s no harm in bringing a little injection of originality, going in a new direction and taking advantage of modern filmmaking techniques. It’s a must in order to drive the future of the genre onwards and upwards. Enter the Eli Roth produced entry into the exorcism annals ‘The Last Exorcism’.
This 2003 effort from director Daniel Stamm decided to change-up the style slightly by employing the overly saturated concept of found footage. A disillusioned minister travels out to the sticks to document the reported possession of a young teenage girl. Now a non-believer the Reverend Cotton Marcus continues his evangelical career by carrying out fake exorcisms by operating certain tricks and gimmicks to give the impression of demonic possession and the ultimate exorcism of the entity. It’s found footage nature, which can usually detract somewhat from the story itself, manages to lend itself extremely well to the overall flow of the story whilst still keeping those necessary jump moments intact and as effective as possible. The success of the movie also helped manage the spawning of a non-found footage sequel released back in 2013.
[REC] 2 (2009)
The only sequel in our list is international found footage horror follow-up ‘[REC] 2’. You may be wondering why we’ve dropped in a sequel to our list when the original ‘[REC]’ was a perfectly fine horror effort? Well it’s an interesting franchise as it almost manages to switch genres between the first two entries. The first installment, from Spanish writer/directing duo Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, is an all-out confined infection-based zombie-esque survival movie. It runs very much in a similar vein to that of Danny Boyle’s ’28 Days Later’. A group of tenants, a couple of fireman and a film crew become quarantined in a building when a contagious viral outbreak begins knocking off the inhabitants. Only the infected victims don’t seem to want to die peacefully as they begin to jump up and feed on the living. And it appears that patient zero may be living in the attic upstairs.
However, by the time we break in to ‘[REC] 2’ the mood, the action, the pace and even the genre has taken a mighty swing into a new direction. A Spanish GEO team and an official from the Ministry of Health (or so it seems) head into the quarantined building to help take back control. But the MOH representative is actually a priest looking to snare a sample of blood from the mysterious girl living in the attic on behalf of the Vatican. Because as it turns out the infected haven’t simply got a bad case of the zombies they’re actually possessed, a possession which is passed to other recipients via the blood. This gives this exciting sequelisation a whole new approach to play with further evolving its initial and apparent concept which was only hinted at briefly in the final scene of the original movie. It even manages to squeeze in a quick POV switcharound half way through the movie trying to tie together two groups from the building whom were each led by a different string of events until they eventually cross paths in the heart of danger.
‘Grace: The Possession’ is now available on DVD from all major stockists and revolves around eighteen year-old Grace. Grace is a Catholic teenager raised by her grandmother Helen since her mother died giving birth to her and her father is unknown. Grace joins the university and has frequent blackouts. The doctor diagnoses her and tells that she might have a mental condition, suggesting her to visit a psychiatrist. However the pious Helen brings her granddaughter home and forces her to frequent the church. Soon Grace discovers hidden secrets from her mother and the priests tells that evil is inside her.