Director: Scott B. Hansen
Writer: Mary Dixon
Stars: Chris Minor, Jake Brinn, Nicky Jasper
Here is a number for you: 328. That is a very conservative number of movies listed under the theme “Demonic Possession” in the AllMovies.com database. Whether that number seems high or low to you, keep in mind that more cryptic films are likely circulating in the denizens of the web, or that other movies categorized under different themes in the AllMovies.com database could have missed a few. (There is, after all, a paradoxically entitled theme called “Sex Horror”.) So what kind of movies are under the category of “Demonic Possession?” The Exorcism series, of course, but there are other “I supposes” like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Jennifer’s Body.
I only bring this up because I have been agonizing all week about The Possession Experiment, another familiar demonic, exorcism film trying to find a place in an already crowded sub-SUB-genre. A spate of demonic possession films are extremely difficult to make, with a few incredible outliers over the years like The Conjuring, only to be met with a contemporary dud like (in my opinion) the truly awful waste of a film (with Eric Bana!) Deliver Us from Evil.The Possession Experiment, with a modest budget and limited release, has the luxury of creative license (or should, at least) since it will not compete with the likes of a movie directed by James Wan. Nevertheless, the problem with The Possession Experiment is a plot so convoluted that any attempt to actually scare an audience is met with frustration and disbelief.
Part exorcism and part coming-of-age film, the story is about spritely young college student Brandon, who is apparently the only person in his theology class who cares about the subject (and school in general). His natural inquisitiveness is a welcome sign for his dull professor, who later mentors Brandon as his student investigates the story of an exorcism performed in town decades ago. Brandon works with his incredulous roommate, whose stoner logic will (thankfully) supersede such incredulity, and another female college student (who excites the stoner roommate) with beauty and brains to match.
But before the three can venture out on their quest, they need money. So what do savvy, millennial college students do? Crowd-source, of course! To raise $20,000, Brandon promises his sponsors to livestream the investigation, even if he finds himself in danger of possible possession. The sickos of the internet flood him with cash within hours, and away our group goes into the abandoned mansion where this alleged possession took place.
All plot points beyond this would constitute a spoiler, so I’ll leave it there. But do prepare yourself for some contrived twists and demon dreams that scare our hero more than the viewer. Save for some excellent special effects, including a jaw dropping (literally!) to the floor (it’s a demon movie!), there isn’t much in this film for it stand out of the 328-something crowd.
The film is on DVD & VOD on December 6
Eric Dinsmore | Twitter: @dinsmorality