JUNE 22, 2011
Seems to me that if you didn’t have a lot of money for effects and things of that sort, that you’d welcome the idea of spending time on “cheap” things like conversations. But the makers of Anneliese: The Exorcism Tapes weren’t that bright, and thus what could have been a decent Exorcism Of Emily Rose/Last Exorcism ripoff (it was based on the same case as the former, filmed like the latter) is instead pretty terrible, ranking as one of the worst films from The Asylum that I’ve encountered yet.
Now you might think that’s not saying much (“They all suck!”), but it really is. If I said a movie was the BEST Asylum movie, THAT would be dim praise – the bar is pretty low. But having seen their dreck like Monster, Halloween Night, and Paranormal Entity, the fact that this one is even WORSE than those is almost laudable. And the fact that it’s based on a true story (for real this time) somehow makes it even more terrible, with its occasional exploitative elements and laughably bad attempts to make a modern house in Glendale or Silverlake (somewhere around there) look like 1970s Germany.
They also botch their entire concept, attempting to pass itself off as “found footage” from the events that occurred in June of 1976. I’d have to consult Wikipedia to be sure, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that they didn’t have HD camcorders back then, and the crude efforts to make some of the footage look like 8 or 16mm are just as tacky. They even add digital tape noise over some of the footage, which only draws MORE attention to its anachronistic idiocy. They get the 1.33:1 aspect ratio right, I’ll give them that much.
But even ignoring all that (I assume the ideal Asylum viewer – an easily duped schmuck – won’t notice anyway), it’s a lousy movie almost from the start. The biggest problem is that they hit the ground running, which they probably think makes the movie more exciting but actually just makes it impenetrable. The Exorcist works because we spend 30-40 minutes with Regan as a normal girl before she turns; and the aforementioned flicks work because they give us interesting characters in the lead roles (Laura Linney in Emily, Patrick Fabian in Last Exorcism). But in all three, the exorcism is something they build to, whereas here, the priests arrive in the first scene and are doing their thing within the first 10-15 minutes.
Worse, not only do we never get a chance to latch onto any of the characters or really give a shit about what is going on because of the mad rush to “get to the good stuff”, but it also makes the movie incredibly repetitive after a half hour, because they’ve already shown us all their tricks. Every now and then someone dies (made up people), but not only will you probably not care, you might even have to pause to remember who they even were. Between the crew, doctors, parents, and priest, there are like 8 people there at all times, all introduced more or less simultaneously, and I was hard pressed to tell some of them apart, especially due to their silly attempts to “dirty up” the footage. A big chunk of the movie is shown from a black and white/washed out fixed angle from the corner of the living room, with everyone talking over each other. “Who the fuck is talking?” will be a common thought running through your brain when you watch this flick, if you bother to do so (please don’t).
Hilariously, the best parts of the movie are when we look at a black screen, accompanied by some text and a German logo of some sort. These are when we hear the real Anneliese tapes, and while it’s a bit crass, they at least offer the chills that these movies should effortlessly provide. The bits of text at the top/end of the film are also more interesting than anything we see, again because they are sticking to the facts, and also because they stay on screen so long (I had time to read one of them FIVE times), it fills up the running time. Anything to keep me from having to watch these mostly terrible actors spit out their (seemingly at least partly improvised) dialogue!
I also will give kudos to Nicole Muller, the girl playing Anneliese. She looks a bit younger than the real girl was at this time (24), which I assume is intentional because no one ever makes an exorcist movie with a character in her 20s (I guess it makes it more disturbing when she starts telling the priest to fuck her or whatever). But whatever her age, the actress gives it her all, pulls off the voices convincingly, and generally proves that she deserves better than this. Everyone else should be thrown out of Hollywood on the grounds of their terrible fake German accents alone.
And that’s the other thing – it’s actually hard to decipher half of the movie. The German accents are nigh on unintelligible, and a number of seemingly important plot points are revealed via on-screen journal entries written by someone with terrible penmanship. Then you have everyone talking over each other, or interrupting due to not knowing how to improvise properly... it’s just a mess. But even when the dialogue is crystal clear it’s not worth listening to anyway, so it’s not a big loss.
Well, whatever. No one cares about the Asylum movies that are bad, because that’s what is expected. It’s those rare ‘gems’ (Mega Piranha!) that keeps me coming back; pointing out the flaws in their others is sort of like complaining that the guy who robbed your house also had terrible hygiene.
What say you?