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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | March 20, 2006

I’ve heard good things about Asylum Entertainment and up until now, they seemed to be really heading in a good direction creative-wise, but lately, all they seem to release these days are knock-offs of big budget horror films. There was “When a Stranger Calls” in theaters and then Asylum released “When a Killer Calls”, there was the remake of “King Kong” and then simultaneously “King of the Lost World”, there was “War of the Worlds” and then their own “H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds”, and there was “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and now there’s “Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers”. Coincidence? I think not. You think that’s bad? When “The Hills Have Eyes” remake is released, Asylum’s releasing “Hillside Cannibals”.

I liked “Emily Rose” a lot, it wasn’t perfect, but it had its surefire moments, and I was curious what the carbon copy would bring. So, “Exorcism” involves Gail who has just moved in to a new house (looks more like a guest house) with her sister and her husband, Gail is an idyllic girl who is also rebellious. There’s a lot of the uneven characterization within the film’s writing, so I wasn’t really minding how she was pure one moment and rebellious the next. With Emily Rose, she was god worshipping and idealistic and she was possessed, but Gail drinks and doesn’t believe in god, and doesn’t want to go to college, and is not even a virgin. Regardless, though, “Exorcism” is in many ways an obvious rip-off of “Emily Rose”, hell, even the main actress Erica Roby looks like Jennifer Carpenter.

The story is pulled in all sorts of directions attempting to poorly characterize our principals, and introducing characters for no reason. “Exorcism” is bad not because it’s extremely low tech but mainly because it’s a creative nightmare. Director Slawner has no idea how to direct, and prefers to basically rip elements from “The Entity”, “Emily Rose”, all of “The Exorcist” films, and even “Dracula”. The story is hackneyed, and bland with dialogue that seemed intent on padding the running time, while the only remotely interesting character, Gail, fails to muster up a good performance and convince us she’s actually suffering. The extent of the signal that she’s changing is merely adding dark circles under her eyes. How do we know she’s possessed? Well, she’s got dark circles under her eyes, that’s got to say something. And she’s become amorous. And she’s speaking in a low hissing tone. That’s horrifying.

And sadly, the explanation for Bower’s possession is never made entirely clear, so Slawner makes a hilarious stretch for story. He attempts to cover all the bases in terms of plot devices and motivation here. The reason why Gail is possessed is because she doesn’t believe in religion, and in case you don’t buy that, Gail and her obligatory slutty friend play with a Ouija board at one point, and in case you don’t buy that Gail and her sister’s new house is possibly haunted, and if you don’t buy that she may be going insane since she hasn’t grieved over the death of her parents six weeks before, or ala “Emily Rose”, Gail may have a possible neurological disorder. The powerful “Exorcism” comes to a finale with a long and comedic final exorcism in Gail’s room consisting of Gail growling and speaking in a low tech deep voice, while the priests finally exorcise the demon, and all is swell in movie land. I can’t wait for Asylum’s version of “The Descent”: “Cave Creatures”.

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