Diabolical Dullness Destroys Uncork'd Entertainment's Exorcist Vengeance

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Every moviegoer has differing tastes, and just as there are varieties of food, a veritable smorgasbord of comparable film styles exists. There’s the elegant haute cuisine of an arty foreign film, the spiciness of a romantic comedy, the burger-and-beer chest-thumping of action flicks. Certain motion pictures, however, like some culinary fare, are stale, their ingredients long-past the plainly stamped expiration date and sickening enough to audiences that their regurgitated story elements become toxic to the cinematic system. Their recipes are flat, over-processed imitations of earlier, superior silver screen outings, combined in ever-more-unpalatable flavors.

That’s the cliché-ridden cookbook the latest offering from Uncork’d Entertainment and Millman Productions, Exorcist Vengeance, finds itself a part of. Take one part William Peter Blatty’s classic tale of demonic possession, add two tablespoons of The Evil Dead, a dash of Amityville and Death Wish, stir in absolutely zero originality and you have the story of Father Jozsef Arness (rugged Charles Bronson look-alike Robert Bronzi), a spiritually haunted, Magnum-toting Catholic priest whose specialty is exorcising the Lord of Lies in the hopes that one day the demonically-caused death of his own wife, Elena (Adrienne Grant, seen in flashbacks), can be avenged. Old Scratch’s current habitat is in the quiet cottage of a rural English family, where a string of infernal incursions have caused endless troubles for stressed-out head-of-the-household Patrick (Simon Furness), his teenage daughter, Rose (Nicole Nabi), his sister, Christine (Nicola Wright), and her own two grown children, Nick (Ben Parsons) and Rebecca (Sarah Alexandra Morris). The Catholic diocese has sent Jozsef to investigate the phenomena, but which member of the house will he uncover as the progenitor of such sinister satanic shenanigans?

Tameness may be the biggest of the many sins Exorcist Vengeance extols. Any innocent viewer seduced by the admittedly compelling-looking trailer who goes into the movie with visions of an action-packed sugar plum thrill ride in their head will be sorely disappointed by the banal hand-me-down rent-a-plot narrative the film truly offers. The script by writers Jeff Miller and Matthew B.C. is evidence that considerable care, time and thought went towards making Father Jozsef as intriguing a figure as possible, but there’s not enough of a character study to build an entire film around, and in the end any diabolical disturbances degenerate into a docile domestic drama dressed in devilish drag. The actors are adequate, but there’s precious little bite to any of their given dialogue, no scene whose rampantly derivative celluloid lineage can’t be traced to another movie, and while one could posit the argument that such instances are merely homage or purposeful nostalgia, no feasible effort has been put forth to deepen, comment upon or upend the stock demonic formulas audiences have familiarized themselves with since The Exorcist’s 1973 release. They’re simply stolen cinematic threads woven into a thin, boring blanket: Isolated cabin? Yawn…check. Possessed, writhing woman tied to a bed? Yawn…check. Distorted Deadite vocals? A few timidly portrayed murders? A completely predictable adversary revealed at the climax? Yawn, yawn, yawn. Check, check and check again.

If there’s any true positive aspect to Exorcist Vengeance, it may be that it definitively proves once-and-for-all to theological unbelievers a malevolent force such as Satan actually exists. After all, no other entity besides Lucifer himself could conceive and inflict such wicked dullness on unsuspecting viewers and call it entertainment, or worse, innovation. And it’s for that reason that I feel compelled to give Exorcist Vengeance an unholy 1.5 (out of 5) on my Fang Scale. The cure for insomnia has finally been created. Well done.

1.5 / 5.0