Studio: Reality Films
Director: Philip Gardiner
Writer: Philip Gardiner, Warren Croyle, Joe Micallef
Producer: Michelle Gent, Philip Gardiner
Stars: Rudy Barrow, Liz Mente Bishop, Nathan Head, Emma K. Robins, Jane Haslehurst, Bob Lee, Jack Burrows
A priest and an epidemiologist investigate a worldwide outbreak of demonic possession.
As of this writing on July 27th, 2013, “Paranormal Incident: The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn” (review here) is the only title on Culture Crypt to receive a review score of zero out of 100. The only reason that “Exorcist Chronicles” scores a ten out of 100 instead of the second zero is because it turns out that both films were directed by Philip Gardiner. Since I would rather that Reality Films not own the dubious distinction of having produced the first/only two zero scoring films, I opted to give “Exorcist Chronicles” ten points more than it deserves as a pity buffer.
Of course, quibbling over the difference between ten points and zero points in an already low subjective review score is akin to arguing whether drowning or burning is a more preferable way to die. No matter the assigned point value, “Exorcist Chronicles” is a terribly poor production all the way around.
In a word, “Exorcist Chronicles” is senseless. From the plot to the cinematic style to the dialogue to the reason for watching, virtually everything about the film is pointless.
“Exorcist Chronicles” purports to be the tale of a worldwide epidemic of demonic possessions. Fonts claim globetrotting settings like England, Holland, France, and the United States, yet most locations are generic interiors that look suspiciously like every other room depicted. The film grows more brazen in a final sequence encompassing China, Germany, Ecuador, and other countries. They may as well say Mars, Jupiter, and Alpha Centauri though, as they are just stock footage shots funneled through a green and grainy video filter.
New scenes are introduced with a confusing location and date stamp that clicks and clacks like an antique typewriter as each letter appears onscreen, despite being a 21st century production. The teletype seemingly exists only to justify the second word in the title. Even the movie wonders what the point is and gives up on the framing format at the two-thirds point. Nineteen different date/location stamps noisily intrude across the screen in the film’s first hour, while only one appears during the latter forty minutes.
The end credits boast a ridiculous 98 actors. Even the top billed cast members feature character names like, “Scientist Boss,” “Unknown Man,” and “Possessed Bathroom Woman.” This is one thing that does make sense, however. The characters are so completely milquetoast that even the script has no way of differentiating them other than by gender and a vague adjective.
The good news is that “Exorcism Chronicles” is mercifully short, as the movie is only about ten minutes long. The bad news is that those ten minutes are spread over a one hour and 38 minute total runtime.
To make ten minutes of content stretch into a feature length production, innumerable shots go on for several minutes longer than they reasonably need to be. “Exorcist Chronicles” opens with three straight minutes of a woman in the throes of possession before beating a priest repeatedly. The sequence is longer than an average heavyweight boxing match. This is followed by several minutes of another priest praying silently over a dead body and then a few minutes of a woman exercising on her floor.
An overused time-lapse technique does the heavy lifting for the plethora of montages. Parishioners file into a church over and over again. When it seems like the film may finally return to moving the storyline forward, the camera instead switches to an interior angle of those same parishioners assembling into their pews. By the time an out of nowhere montage of an axe-throwing carnival tourney eats up another few minutes of screentime, the need to understand why a film was made this way is replaced by the need to find an off button.
Sitting through the punishingly long scenes might have been mildly tolerable if the camerawork was not as senseless as everything else. It is as if the cameras were set in various corners and pointed in a general direction without any attempt whatsoever at creating a sensible frame. Static angles record various character entries and exits without regard for them even being onscreen. “Exorcist Chronicles” cuts off more heads than a French guillotine by showing feet, waists, and anything other than something that makes sense.
The awful audio quality and sound recording already makes the sparing dialogue unintelligible. Being unable to see lips makes the task more difficult still. The video is murky. Adding to the theme of senselessness is a visual style that constitutes random inclusions of blurry frame edges, fish-eyed lenses, sudden zooms, and lighting as dark as Sylvia Plath prose.
“Exorcist Chronicles” should come packaged with an anti-wrinkle cream. So much of the viewing experience is spent with the brow scrunched in befuddlement that permanent lines and crow’s feet are likely to add ten years to a person’s face. Whether watching a priest and a scientist wrestle with a possessed woman in a matchup that has all the oomph of a pillow fight, or puzzling out why surveillance videos from locations all over the world have the exact same horizontal lines that appear nowhere in any actual recording devices, there are plenty of opportunities for a viewer’s face to freeze in an unflattering expression. And the greatest opportunity for that comes from wondering why anyone would make this movie in the first place, let alone willingly choose to watch it.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 10