RITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.

emily-roseRITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RITES OF SPRING. (2011) DIRECTED BY PADRAIG REYNOLDS. STARRING A.J. BOWEN, KATHERINE RANDOLPH, ANESSA RAMSEY, MARCO ST. JOHN AND JEFF NATIONS.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SCOTT DERRICKSON. STARRING LAURA LINNEY, TOM WILKINSON AND JENNIFER CARPENTER.

This is a pairing of horror films which I always associate with each other because I first watched them at around the same time. They’re both top-notch horror films which I re-visit every year, and always one after the other, usually RITES OF SPRING followed by EMILY ROSE.

Let’s take a closer look at them, starting, appropriately enough, with RITES OF SPRING. Although you wouldn’t think it with the cold, the wind and the sleet, it is in fact Spring, a time for snowdrops and daffodils, green shoots and… the most hideous of human sacrifices…

There are two storylines running concurrently in this American horror movie directed by an Irishman, RITES OF SPRING. Firstly, we have a small group of criminals who are planning to kidnap a rich man’s little daughter in order to ransom her for the pay-off of a lifetime.

The kidnapping goes to plan up to a point, but blood is shed during the home invasion and the kidnappers are forced to bring along an extra hostage they hadn’t bargained on. They bring both their hostages to an old abandoned school miles from anywhere and wait for the pay-off to arrive…

The other storyline is bloody terrifying. Two attractive young women are abducted by a strange old man. They wake up to find themselves suspended from hooks in an old dump of a shed out in the countryside somewhere.

The old man keeps popping in to cut them with knives or cut their clothing off their trembling bodies. He keeps asking them if they’re ‘clean’ but, just in case they’re not, he’s got a bucket of water and a bristly sponge handy. Eeeep…!

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers get the distinct impression that a human sacrifice of some kind is just around the corner. And who- or what- is the old man keeping prisoner underneath the locked trapdoor? And what does the man need the girls’ blood for?

When the two storylines spectacularly collide, a chase begins that always puts me in mind of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, among others. The folk horror element will probably remind you somewhat of THE WICKER MAN.

The chase in the second half of the film is tense with some truly shocking moments. Even the cover of the DVD box is super-sexy, picturing a naked woman suspended from a rope and silhouetted against the night sky while in the background looms a dilapidated old barn.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is based on true events which, when I researched ’em briefly online, scared the living daylights out of me. The film is part courtroom drama and part horror, the horror being told in terrifying flashbacks. Though it’s naturally not a patch on William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST, the Mammy and Daddy of exorcism films, it’s still a brilliant and really watchable horror story.

Laura Linney plays Erin Bruner, a high-flying barrister whose job it is to defend a priest called Father Richard Moore, who’s played by wonderful English actor Tom Wilkinson (THE FULL MONTY, IN THE BEDROOM).

He’s accused of bringing about the death through negligence of a beautiful young woman with everything to live for called Emily Rose. How, you might ask, did he do this? As we’re told in flash-backs, he performed an exorcism on the girl with the full consent of her worried parents because she’d exhibited signs of demonic possession. These included contortions of her body, speaking in strange languages and seeing horrible visions of demonic faces, among other things.

The lawyers prosecuting poor old Father Moore are maintaining that the girl was anorexic and that she had epilepsy coupled with psychosis. These conditions, they claim, neatly cover all of Emily’s symptoms. Erin Bruner, on the other hand, attempts to convince the sceptical court of the existence of demonic possession, because that’s what Father Moore and Emily’s devastated parents truly believe was the root of Emily’s terrifying experiences.

The scenes in which Emily first notices the demonic influences around her are really scary. So are the ones in which Father Moore and Erin Bruner both feel the demonic presence close by in the dead of night (at 3am, to be precise, the REAL witching hour) and the ones where the priest bravely attempts to rid the girl of the evil spirits that plague her.

Emily’s bodily contortions are super-freaky and all real and not computerised, from what I can make out. They’ll put the willies up you big-time. I could have done without the gold initialled locket in the snow and maybe even the stigmata as well, but otherwise, this is a really scary film that you shouldn’t watch just before going to bed because it’ll give you the worst nightmares you’ve ever had.

But do watch it if you can. Even if you think that exorcisms and demonic possession are just a load of old hogwash from the movies, there are plenty of people who don’t agree. Even if you’re determined to remain a hardened sceptic, at least try to keep an open mind. After all, there are more things in Heaven and Earth and so on, aren’t there…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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EXORCISM. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

exorcism 2

EXORCISM. (2014) SINISTER HOUSE FILMS. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LANCE PATRICK. MAKE-UP EFFECTS BY NATALIA CYBULSKA AND ALEXA DAISY SEABORNE. STARRING ALEX RENDALL, AISLING KNIGHT, SARAH AKEHURST AND LEE AKEHURST.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a terrible film. I really must stop buying DVDs just because they have the words ‘exorcism’ or ‘exorcist’ in the titles, haha. It’s just that I’m so keen to see more films along the lines of ‘The Exorcist,’ but there are times when these seem a bit thin on the ground, sadly.

This was a real stinker anyway, no offence to the film-makers. I normally try never to tear anyone’s efforts down as I always feel that everyone’s vision for their own art is as valid as anyone else’s, but this movie is a mess. The idea behind it is a good one, it just falls down in the execution.

The plot in a nutshell is this. A group of mouthy, not-very-likeable English young people make their way in their van to an empty house in the desolate countryside in the middle of the night. They’re planning to make a film about an exorcism that supposedly took place in the house back in the early ‘Sixties. A priest did a botched job on the exorcism and was never seen again. Neither was the demon. Until now…

Annoying, there were no subtitles on the film and some of the actors’ mumbling was virtually indecipherable, so I only gleaned this latter bit of essential information from the back of the box.

Anyway, as soon as they get inside the house, weird stuff starts happening immediately and the actors and crew start dying in ‘mysterious’ ways. Mercifully, you might say in some cases…! Rob the director is a gobby nightmare. Ash the lead actress is a squeaky, screechy cow. Kate is a mopey, cranky buzzkill.

I liked Chris the behind-the-scenes cameraman and Jo the busty make-up lady but that’s about it. (These two have the same surname, by the way, so they might be brother and sister or summat like that.) The ghost or whatever it is in the house can take the rest of ’em as far as I’m concerned. He or she is welcome to them, heh-heh-heh. As I said, they’re not a very nice bunch of people.

Captions appear on-screen regularly throughout the film but some of them don’t seem to make much sense and some of them are actually mis-spelled. Is there any excuse for that?

The film seems to be trying to copy various other horror films as well, like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, REC and THE EXORCIST itself. Normally, I’d consider this to be a fitting tribute to great movies that came before but, in this case, the film is such a chaotic mess that I won’t make my usual comments.

Putting on the old greenish night-vision and painting black circles around ‘possessed’ people’s eyes to indicate said possession can undoubtedly be scary when it’s done right but it doesn’t really work here. Ditto tying a possessed woman to a bed and making a supposedly ‘demonic’ voice come out of her mouth. Oh dear oh dear. Was there nothing in this film that actually worked…?

Well, it’s only an hour and a quarter long, that’s good. Also, I liked the bit about the group’s van-driver finding their camera and playing their footage back in the safety of his own gaff, only to find that something monstrous has followed him home, that bit was good. But then they had to go and ruin it with another bit, the bit about the snow, which made only about as much sense as anything else in the film. Sorry, guys…!

EXORCISM is a lazy, lazy title. And the bit with the ‘possessed’ priest chasing screechy Ash through the woods, occasionally popping up to say ‘Boo!’ and then apparently running away again before re-appearing again a few seconds later was hilariously bad. Why can’t he catch her…? She’s right there. What’s wrong with him…? Seriously, he’s a really stupid and incompetent possessed priest.

Like I said, it was a great idea but poorly-executed and, dare I say it, even poorly acted and scripted. It could have been a much better, tighter film but it wasn’t, so there you go. Oh boy. This is the meanest review of a film I’ve ever penned. I’m normally much nicer about people’s efforts but this film was just a disaster.

Still, an interesting new side of myself has opened up suddenly. I didn’t know I could be so deliciously bitchy, haha. At this rate, I could stand in for Simon Cowell on the judging panel of X FACTOR if he ever gets the sniffles or stubs his big toe and can’t make it into work. I’d better go give the show a call right away and let ’em know I’m available, there’s probably a waiting list…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor