There is such a thing as too many possessed-by-that-dadgum-devil movies, but as long they tweak the well-worn concept, I’m cool with watching yet another.
As the filmmakers note on the IFC Midnight disc’s featurette, they’re fully aware “The Exorcist” has sort of spoiled it for everyone else, so they tackle this story in a way that would leave audiences “without feeling it’s been done a thousand times before.” (That’s a noble approach, director Manuel Carballo, but Billy Friedkin wants back the hallway shot at 47 minutes in.)
For this dance with the devil, the affected girl is teenage, home-schooled Emma (Sophie Vavasseur, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”). At first, she’s just sorta surly, but soon, the symptoms are a violent seizure, vomiting bile, a message in the mirror, and — this is new — seeing a toilet full of cockroaches. The final straw for Mum and Dad is seeing their dear daughter levitating on the kitchen floor.
That’s when they seek the help of a priest, here played by Doug Bradley, Pinhead in the “Hellraiser” franchises. Without all those needles in his noggin, he’s unrecognizable. And it’s nice to see him in such a straight, meaty role, because he’s quite good at it.
Known elsewhere as “The Possession of Emma Evans,” Carballo’s films exhibits a slick take that twists the knobs of the tale by having its protagonist see flashes of herself hurting others. It also, as viewers will find, plays for keeps. Just by not copping out, “Exorcismus” earns points that raises it to an above-average level. —Rod Lott