NOVEMBER 27, 2012
I can only assume that it was my tardiness seeing The Exorcist (I was 19) that allows me to be easier to please when it comes to movies like Seance: The Summoning (despite the subtitle, it doesn't seem to be a "sequel" to fellow Lionsgate release Seance). Like Exorcismus and some others, I had heard nothing but rants and "worst movie ever!" type pans about the flick, but I didn't think it was that bad at all. So I think for some folks, they saw Exorcist at an impressionable early age and had their minds fucked forever, and now any similar movie doesn't even come close to having the same impact, and thus "sucks". Or maybe I've just seen so many that I can't even tell good from bad anymore, I dunno.
One thing I definitely liked about this one - no priest character! Whether he's introduced early on and sticks around, or disappears until he's needed like the recent (much worse) Devil Seed, the priest character in these things just makes it harder to forget Friedkin's classic. So I was pleased and even kind of charmed that the movie only really has four people, a group of college kids who go to a morgue in order to conduct a seance. Why? Well, that's kind of novel too - one of them claims to be a medium and another doesn't believe her. So off they go, with the skeptical one betting the "medium" that if she can't summon a spirit, she'll be deemed a fraud and then she has to come to his band's show. I like movies where the characters' goals are pretty weak (I say this as the world's only Pick of Destiny fan - that movie focused on their hopes of winning 500 dollars), so I found this kind of endearing; they weren't after world domination or anything, dude just wanted a hot girl to come to his show.
But this is a modern horror movie, so of course someone has a camera. Fear not, it's not a found footage film, but there are just enough scenes of one of the four walking around with a camera for it to start to get grating. Luckily (spoiler), the one who is most adamant about filming everything is the first to die, and relatively early to boot, so the camera motif is more or less done with after 30 minutes or so. However, while I love an early death, this does result in the rest of the movie feeling rather repetitive, as the two survivors spend the rest of it trying to exorcise the now-possessed friend. Again, this helps shed some of the unavoidable Exorcist deja vu, because that movie built up to its exorcism while this one more or less uses it as the core of its plot, but by the 70 minute mark I had gotten kind of tired of listening to the possessee's "demon" voice taunt the other two characters. And no one else shows up, either - it's the weekend and thus the morgue is closed (is this true? I see the LA City Morgue doesn't have weekend hours, so I assume it's a legit excuse), so there's nothing much to break up the action.
Except, of course, when the possessed guy says something horrible and one or both girls leave the room. For a change, the obligatory strained friendships (again, it's a modern horror movie) actually have a payoff - turns out that the born-again Christian, who keeps pushing her faith on the others, actually had an abortion some time ago, and the father was none other than the possessed one (who is the other girl's ex). So that causes some wrinkles that actually tie into the characters' motivations and such, instead of the usual "Let's just have the Final Girl's day get worse by finding out her boyfriend fucked her best friend" type of bullshit that I'll never understand.
Oh, and it has the best plan for the demon's soul ever (spoilers ahead!). None of that "come into meeeeeeeeee!" nonsense - our heroes plan to transfer the demon to a damn rat that they find running around. And what do you do with a rat that's possessed by a demon? You do like Ozzy might (bat, rat, whatever) and bite its goddamn head head off. I've seen 50 of these movies, and I am pretty sure that's a first. So even if you find yourself getting bored with the repetitive plotting/lack of action, or are opposed to the Catholic faith and thus are sick of being told how you need to have Christ in your life, it's totally worth the wait.
The making of isn't worth navigating the menu to play, however. As with a thousand other DTV movies' behind the scenes pieces, if this is your favorite movie for some reason, fine, but otherwise I couldn't detect any value in watching it. The actors took the roles because they were interested in the levels they'd get to play, everyone got along, etc. It's 22 minutes long, I watched it less than 20 hours ago, and I honestly can't tell you one specific thing about it other than that they blessed the set and everyone filmed their interviews in front of an ugly brick wall. The trailer is also included, as is one for Knock Knock 2, which looks to have zero relation to the original even by Lionsgate standards, since that one was a straight slasher set in New York and this is a found footage haunting movie set in Los Angeles, but whatever. Like there's some die-hard Knock Knock fan out there who will be upset about the change? Indeed, according to my review - I can no longer remember a frame of the film - I liked it and I don't even care.
What say you?