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The Divorcing

By Brian Shaer | September 2, 2020

The Divorcing might better be titled, “HELP! I Married A Demon!” Kevin Cappiello’s mildly amusing short makes economical use of today’s popular Zoom technology, which gives the proceedings an up-to-the-minute feel. Ultimately, though, the film is a one-joke exercise. Even still, how can something barely over five minutes long not be worth checking out?

Edgar (Zack Pearlman) and Jessica (Bree Essrig) are still lost in the salad days of their young marriage, which according to Edgar, is “the best relationship he’s ever been in.” However, Edgar has been noticing that Jessica has been acting a little, well, strange of late. For one thing, she has grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead.

It turns out that Jessica is possessed by a demon, and possibly more than one! It’s up to a compassionate marriage counselor (Ify Nwadiwe) to assist Edgar and Jessica in working through their unique matrimonial issue and restore Jessica to her natural self.

Obviously, The Divorcing is looking to the classic demon possession film, The Exorcist, as inspiration for this cute reimagining of the well-known story. Indeed, when we first meet Jessica, she is in full Linda Blair-mode; the first words that come out of her blood-dripping mouth are, “I will feast on your blood!”

“…Edgar has been noticing that Jessica… has grown a third eye in the middle of her forehead.”

Edgar is in predictably adorable and naïve denial about Jessica’s condition and postulates that she’s probably just having a moment: “She gets like this when she’s hangry,” Edgar tells the marriage counselor.

But the marriage counselor knows better. After Edgar discloses that the pair had recently played around with an Ouija board, the marriage counselor deduces that the board game is clearly the cause of Jessica’s possession. When Edgar and the marriage counselor attempt to remotely exorcise Jessica, the Zoom session becomes quite crowded.

The Divorcing‘s virtual spin on The Exorcist is a neat idea. I’m not certain that the movie requires that anyone view it as anything more than a funny one-off, but if we were to look deeper, we might find a hyperbolic commentary on the current state of married couples during the COVID-19 crisis. It isn’t unreasonable to think that many couples have been grating on each other’s nerves for weeks or even months while we have all been cooped up during the pandemic. In its broad and amateur way, The Divorcing might be seen as tapping into this particular phenomenon.

Irrespective of any perceived deeper meaning, it is evident that all of the actors are having a great time and are nicely suited to their roles. Pearlman gets in a few, especially funny moments as Edgar. The demon make-up effects are exceptional, considering the intimate nature of the project, and Essrig appears to be having a blast in her showy role. Nwadiwe, for his part, plays the incredulous observer perfectly well.

But when you boil it down, The Divorcing is just a cute short riffing on a fun idea. When you factor in the contemporary Zoom aspect, The Divorcing practically exists to win points for originality. So I’ll give it some.

The Divorcing (2020)

Directed and Written: Kevin Cappiello

Starring: Zack Pearlman, Bree Essrig, Ify Nwadiwe, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

The Divorcing Image

"…practically exists to win points for originality."

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