The problem with a lot of horror movies that go on the “Possession” sub-genre (and also on some of the “Haunted House” theme) is that most often than not, they follow an all too familiar plot, and even worse, an step-by-step formula, Therefore when I catch a film that tries to steer away from that mold like “Ava’s Possession” it get extra points on my book, even more if the film is a fun ride.
Here we meet Ava, a girl that right at the start of the film gets freed from a demonic possession, and finds herself without any recollection of what happened on the last month. While trying to avoid some jail time due all the illegal and immoral acts she did while possessed, Ava accepts to check herself into a support group for people that have been under the control of an evil spirit. In this support group we meet several interesting characters trying to learn how to avoid to be possessed again, although also there are some people like Hazel, that hopes to meet her evil spirit again, since according to her “they really made a connection” and wouldn’t mind to share her body with her demon again.
As part of her therapy and attempting to get her old life back, Ava tries to make amends with the people she hurt while possessed, but she discovers that is not as easy as it sounds, since a lot of the people are not very forgiving or understanding with those that claim to have been under a «Bad Spiritual Influence», at the same time Ava finds come clues that make her wonder if there are more violent acts that she committed and nobody is telling her about. To make matters worse, it seems that the demon that possessed her for almost a moth has not given up, and is ready to try to get a hold of Ava again.
I think a lot of people can agree that most of the films that deal with possessions after “The Exorcist” have followed almost step-by-step a repetitive formula, and that is one of the reasons that make most of us to think twice about checking them out: 1- An apparently happy individual starts to develop a strange behavior. 2- At the beginning the parents/friends of said individual thinks that the change on the personality are due some illness, and as this behavior starts to get more violent some medical (and even psychological) test are done. 3- After the previous test show nothing wrong with the individual, someone suggest to get help from the spiritual kind, but this is rejected since is considered as «bullcrap», at this time of the film (Often about 50 minutes into the plot) there might have happened a several paranormal events that couldn’t been explained with «simple logical explanations» 4-An spiritual authority presents itself and deals with the demon/spirit. 5- After the (some times apparent) successful exorcism we see that the main individual has returned to his/her previous life with no consequences whatsoever. 6- (Optional) We see that some people involved with the exorcism are threatened by the evil spirit again, foreshadowing a sequel .
So what makes “Ava’s possessions” different from most films? Because the film jumps all those previous points explained and starts right after the exorcism, and answer the questions. What happens to the person that was possessed after an exorcism? Are they liable for some of the acts that they did while possessed? Does society actually would believe that «It was not you»? How would you family actually react and adapt? How do you comeback to your previous job after a long absence that I’m pretty sure is not covered by your medical plan?
I found the story of the film very original, and I liked the concept a lot, specially the idea of the support group, their therapies, the demonic mythology, how they deal with the different types of demons that possessed them, the themes of black magic, and the possibles explanations as to why Ava was possessed on the first place. However, while the pacing was good and steady at first, I think the film drags a little bit on the third act. Another issue I had with the film is that I couldn’t figure if it was aiming for a serious tone or a comedy as it is suggested by the trailer and the poster.After watching the film for a second time, I decided to see it as a «Serious» film and although still felt a little bit uneven, it worked a lot better for me, but I can see that this can alienate some people in the audience that were expecting a spoof. I think is worth mentioning that there are not a lot of things that might scare the average viewer (let alone the gore hounds), but that also means that they were no cheap jump scares either, and I actually like that.
The film has very good special effects, although they are not overused . I liked the musical score, and as far as I can tell it worked very well on several scenes, not to mention that the song “Different Drum” (Not to be mistaken with the one sung by Linda Ronstadt) is already «a must have» on my Mp3 player.
On the acting department, I have no complains, I think that Lou Taylor Pucci (Spring, Evil Dead) was underused, although I understand his character was a minor one, just to appear on key occasions, other than that I think everyone did a good job.
Ava’s Possessions was written and directed by Jordan Galland with original music score by Sean Lennon. The film stars Krause, Jemima Kirke (HBO’s Girls), Carol Kane (Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), and Alysia Reiner and Deborah Rush (both of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black), alongside horror favorites Whitney Able (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), William Sadler (Tales from the Crypt presents Demon Knight), Lou Taylor Pucci (The Evil Dead), and Dan Fogler (NBC’s Hannibal). .
Definitely worth watching more that once “Ava’s Posessions” has a release date for select theaters and VOD March 4th, 2016.