Grace: The Possession
Directed by Jeff Chan
Written by Jeff Chan, Chris Pare
Starring Alexia Fast, Lin Shaye, Madeleine Arthur 87 mins
Exorcism movies are hardly new; far from it, in fact, some of the biggest horror movies around have involved things jumping in and out of bodies and running amok therein. But the folks out at Sony have stepped things up a notch, offering up an exorcism movie that's a little different from the ordinary in "Grace: The Possession".
"Grace: The Possession" follows Grace, a young lady who's just left her grandmother's very strict upbringing to go to college. Naturally, college is a big enough tonal shift for just about anybody, but for someone raised in the kind of environment Grace was raised in it's a night and day difference. So when Grace gets there, and starts getting immersed in that whole new culture, it's easy for someone in her situation to feel unusual things, and discover unusual conditions afoot. But for Grace, the situation gets much darker than she ever expected, and it's enough to make her wonder if maybe her grandma's warning cries about the devil being everywhere were, in fact, right after all.
It's an exorcism movie from the point of view of the possessed. That's an absolutely staggering change in focus, sufficiently so that I can't remember the last time anyone actually did this. Any time you can take something that should be familiar and turn it on its head, that's reason enough to sit up and take notice. But the question there becomes, what will the movie do with all this new attention? Will it give us reason to watch? Or will it fall flat on its face and make us regret even trying in the first place?
It's kind of sad to see the whole concept of religion treated in such a fashion; there's not much in the way of kindness and middle ground here. Your choice is "raging slut" or "Christianity Excelsior", and the middle ground becomes quite clearly wiped out in the face of ham-fisted bludgeoning in one direction or another. I attended college not so long ago, and I don't remember nearly that much moaning in the hallways or the like. The end result is one part "The Exorcist," one part "Jacob's Ladder" and one part "Dead Man on Campus." This is not a blend you'd normally expect to see, and shot in such a perspective is only shakes things up all the more. It's easy to wonder just how much of this is demons at work and how much of this is just sheer crazy culture shock going on. Even worse, everyone here over the age of 35 is clearly pushing for dominance at all costs, and that makes for an even weirder dichotomy. It's not just Grace that's under a thumb here; check out the interplay between Father John and Luke the deacon. Pretty much everything in this whole sad affair is portrayed in about the worst fashion it could possibly be. If you staged a drinking game that had you take a shot every time Grace said "I'm Sorry", you'd probably be dead by the end of it.
It's creepy stuff, make no mistake there, it's terrifying in its way, and everything here is awful. It's perhaps the most crapsack of crapsack worlds, and pinning down how much of this is an actual exorcism at work is quite literally anyone's guess, at least until about the last fifteen minutes or so where they pull out all the stops and practically stamp "THIS IS A DEMON POSSESSION IN PROGRESS" on the bottom of the screen. As obvious as that is, however, the ending is shockingly inconclusive; just what happens after all that is going to be very unclear and not even make much sense.
Special features here include your choice of English, French or Spanish language tracks, as well as English, French or Spanish subtitles. There are also trailers for "The Remaining," "The Calling," "Predestination," "Roger Corman's Operation Rogue," "Sniper: Legacy," and "Deliver Us From Evil."
"Grace: The Possession" is a clever idea, but executed in such a ham-fisted style that it's tough to get behind. Still, it's got some scares to it, and a novel idea in horror is certainly worthwhile given the state of horror as a whole lately. But in the end, it's not as good as it might have been, and that's the biggest shame of the whole series.