After being possessed by a demon for a month, Ava is successfully exorcised of her evil spirit. Now recovering and trying to get back to some semblance of normality, Ava discovers that while possessed she went on a rampage and broke quite a few laws. Her lawyer (played by indie favorite Dan Fogler) informs her that she can either do some serious jail time or attend "Spirit Possession Anonymous," which is a sort of AA for people who have been possessed by demons and want to remain demon free ... and prison free.
These days, the horror genre is somewhat lacking when it comes to originality, so when a movie comes along that has something new to say I pay very close attention. Ava's Possessions is such a movie, and yet the premise is so simple that it's surprising that no one has ever put it on film before. While it may be simple it's also ingenious and extremely well put together by its creator, writer-director Jordan Galland. In 2012 Galland released his second feature Alter Egos, a great little comedy about superheroes which is set in an alternative Earth. That comedic effort would be a clear indicator of Galland's skill as both a director and a writer who could think outside of the proverbial box.
Written & Directed by
Louisa Krause, Whitney Able, Dan Fogler, Lou Taylor Pucci, William Sadler
4 March 2016
Nav's Grade: B+
The film opens on a possessed Ava going through the exorcism by Father Merrino that rids her of her demon. However, unlike its contemporaries with their projectile pea soups and their "I cast you out"'s, Ava's Possessions shows us the exorcism from Ava's point of view. And although the POV shot is used only briefly, it's rather effective and leaves a lasting impression. From here we're quickly introduced to Ava's battle-scarred family. Mother (Deborah Rush) appears to be missing an eye and is wearing a makeshift eyepatch, and her father (William Sadler) has fresh scratches on his neck. Also present is her sister (Whitney Able) and future brother-in-law (Zachary Booth), yet considering what everyone has just been through and the fact that they just witnessed an exorcism, they all appear to be pretty calm about the whole thing. It's clear that something's not quite right.
Some of the best material comes from the Spirit Possession Anonymous group sessions attended by Ava, as this is where we meet these wonderful characters. Like Tony (Wass Stevens), the guy who runs the SPA, and Hazel (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), another victim of demonic possession, only Hazel wants her demon back. Once someone has been possessed they're very vulnerable to further possessions, so it's Tony's job to teach them how to resist the demon's attacks. It doesn't take long before Ava's demon tries to re-enter her body, which causes Ava to start acting crazy again. This leads to some amusing scenes, however Galland doesn't simply go for cheap laughs and thanks to some solid writing, the levity carries a certain amount of gravitas keeping things grounded.
The entire cast nailed their parts perfectly, but the real star here was Louisa Krause, who got to demonstrate her remarkable range and versatility. Krause is such an appealing actor who looks extremely comfortable in front of a camera. The tech aspects were also solid, and with Galland's direction and writing, along with a fantastic ensemble of fine actors, Ava's Possessions is one of the best genre pics I've seen this year.