Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Exorcist, Shrink


What bollocks. What pretentious crap-- the one thing I despise more than garbage is garbage with makeup on. Shrink used weighty subjects and sad stories and quirky characters in an effort to be heavy and taken seriously (but with a spring in your step), but, really. Really. A wasted premise, another wasted I'M KEVIN SPACEY performance. Designated Dave was pretty likable here, but I thought his character was the most thinly etched. The story really was nonexistent. The montages were painful (especially the one of the writer introducing himself to Jemma and then magically, musically becoming her best magical musical friend), the movie star love interest should not have been present at ALL. They should have chosen one or two relationships to explore, not just a cliche exploration of all of them. And is there more to Mr. Shrink than his depression or his dead wife??? The bits that did stand out, I thought, were when we were actually informed of Spacey's main issue via the intervention (a shrink's wife killed herself??? how does he feel about that????). It was actually a pretty lame scene (I get it, but really, why must so many protaganists have so many annoying friends? we're supposed to take his side and feel his pain but come on), but the reveal and Spacey's reaction to their attempts to save him were well done. The pregnancy was also a surprise, but didn't really seem to do anything for the story. I thought Spacey's pain went pretty much unexplored, except for the very nicely done scene in which he reads Jemma's mother's letter and hugs her. His look of dumbfounded marvel at the ridiculousness that is suicide combined with the connection he feels to Jemma combined with thoughts of his own wife is pretty amazing. I felt it. I just wish the rest of the movie weren't SUCH PRETENTIOUS CRAP.
Stop telling me what to feel, Shrink! STOP IT!

So. I finally saw it. Probably not as it was meant to be seen, but nonetheless. It was... interesting. A more interesting film than I probably would have given it credit for. There's alot of drama to it, the whole first hour goes by without being scary, really exposing us to the young priest and his pain. I thought they kind of just touched on the Old Father's existence, but I guess the prequel takes care of that. It was a pretty good set-up, and not one that I expected. It was pretty nicely woven into the exorcism itself, what with Reagan/whoever speaking as though she were his mother. Anyway, as for the scary stuff, Holy Mother. This movie is it's own horror genre. I heard it called "religious porn", and though I don't feel so harshly I kind of agree... it's unsettling because it's overexposure to the demonic world. It sort of wallows in it, shocks you with it (crucifix scene, anyone?) in a way that makes me wonder if it's just delighting in the shock value of literally playing devil's advocate. Overall, I do feel that despite it's probable intent to simply frighten and make money by using the gothic, the timeless iconography, the seriousness that the subject material instantly gives it (in comparison to a slasher or monster movie for example)--- despite this intent, I feel as though it does highlight hope in the form of Christianity (Catholicism), and more specifically the notion that Satan and all that is evil will try to squelch hope. It will try to destroy you with your own sin and weakness (physically symbolised in Reagan, mentally in Young Priest) but we are given a way to stand up under it (Young Priest in his beliefs, in God and his vows, Reagan in her mother who fights endlessly for her). So I think that's a good trait. I also think it's good to open up dialogue about demon possession-- though obviously there's not too much of Reagan's issue goin' on out there, there is the struggle of good and evil and the dark side of the paranormal, something we should not pretend does not exist (by closing our eyes It only gains advantage). I think Emily Rose did that better, via the court scenes and the struggle of the lawyers, but still.

On the other hand, this is a horror movie. It has creepy sounds and music and people had heart attacks watching it. Kids watch it for thrills. And see here, I think by doing that you might be playing with fire. You are cheapening spiritual issues or threats by commercializing them. Yes, in reality I reckon demons are scary, but need we present something so serious in order to take delight in our own fear? And we do delight in it.

Ellen Burstyn was pretty good in this-- I liked her scene with the detective in which he questions her about the dead man, when she really realizes that her daughter must have killed him. I was also creeped out when she explored the attic-- I didn't realized ghostly sort of activity was necessarily a part of the story.

The Blair kid was, gotta admit, pretty amazing. Though I couldn't help thinking the whole time that this was some pretty messed-up stuff to be exposing a young actress to. But yeah. Especially with the makeup she was phenomenal- and yes, I realize she didn't do ALL of the voices or anything, but she did alot. It was astonishing to see her go from so fresh-faced at the start to so.... vomity. But really, the scene of ultimate creepiness for me is when the Young Priest goes to see her and she tells him to release her; that releasing herself would be such an un-necessary display of power. Also, the scene where she flips out the medics/psychiatrists and you hear the voice (the sow is mine!!) phew.

The best element though, I must say, is the actor who played the young priest. I don't think he did much else, but he had a great presence. Not too broody, very noble. I really liked him.

I'm still on the fence about how I feel about this movie, considering my religious feelings and my aversion to highly esteeming horror films (as well as my worry that this one is especially overrated), buuuut for now I give it

3.5/5 (mostly for making me think. to be honest it didn't scare me that much-- to this day i'm more frightened by the uneasy anticipation of The Sixth Sense or The Others, but this is closer to elegant fright than the usual run-of-the-mill.)

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