Sunday, June 7, 2015

Horror Film Review

Asmodexia (2014):  Supernatural Spanish shocker (subtitled) is surprisingly short and certainly silly.  And no, it has nothing to do with Ass Mode.  I wish it did, not because I miss Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show (I do) but because there would have been fewer irritations and no outright anger.  While Ass Mode is a way of life, asmodexia is a made up word from the mind of the film's director (Marc Carrete).  What is it supposed to mean?  Hell if I know.  He doesn't explain, which is a clue as to what you're in for if you watch this contrived and manipulative exorcism tale.

Eloy (Lluis Marco) and his teenage granddaughter Alba (Claudia Pons) wander around the outskirts of Barcelona conducting exorcisms a few days before 12/21/2012 (the date of the dreaded and ultimately false Mayan Apocalypse).  According to Eloy, this is the date of the Resurrection and Alba is the key to that heralded event.  Via a series of maddeningly vague flashbacks, we learn:  Alba is the daughter of a possessed woman, Eloy was the leader of a hippie sect of true believers, and that two sisters (one now a cop and the other locked up in a loony bin) were members.  The cop follows the carnage left in the wake of Eloy and Alba's exorcisms and becomes increasingly nervous as 12/21/2012 approaches.  The loony finds that her asylum-mates are going more and more mad.  Possessions.  Turns out the asylum was build on top of a church where Alba is supposed to instigate the Resurrection.  Also turns out that everything you think is happening isn't really happening.  Confused?  Good.  Welcome to my world.

Time to spoil the shit out of this movie.  Think The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects...without either the quality or the charm.  As you may have guessed, the "possessed" folks Eloy battle are not controlled by demons but by heavenly beings sent to stop Eloy from opening the gates of hell.  Eloy's cult was Satanic.  Alba is both his granddaughter and daughter.  Oh, and she's also dead.  Sort of a zombie but not really.  The loony was the last line of defense...and so on and so forth.  Blah, blah bite me.  I don't mind rooting for the bad guy in horror movies if it's warranted (stupid kids doing stupid things at a cabin in the woods deserve what they get).  Learning that I've been tricked into rooting for Satan and his subjugation of mankind...I do mind.  You might say I deserved to be tricked because I couldn't figure out the twist or that the filmmakers did such an awesome job, I have no right to complain.  Um, nope and nope.  There was nothing to even hint that Eloy was anything but a Christian exorcising demons.  I felt played and robbed, almost bullied into the mindset dictated by the director.  An audience needs to be guided, not forced.  Because we will resist and, in the end, not like your movie very much.

The Skinny

Acting:  Marco as Eloy is all ham and cheese.  Pons as Alba is, well, lifeless.  The loony, Ona (Irene Montala) does the best.
Story:  The plot holes are legion.  Really, would God mount such a pathetic defense?  Before she's killed, Ona invokes Michael the Archangel.  He doesn't show.  Why not?  And what the hell does the Mayan calendar have to do with the resurrection of a fallen angel from Christian mythology?  I'll tell you...not a blessed thing.
Direction:  Choppy and disorienting.
Production Values:  I think they shot it on special film stock to make everything feel washed out.  Spain is a beautiful country, although you'd never know it watching this.  The budget was half a million euros.  Must have all gone to the actors.
Gore/FX:  The make-up for the possessed isn't bad.  No gore or CGI to speak of.
Scares:  If only.
Ending:  Bad guys win.
Verdict:  Should you see Asmodexia?  If you're a masochist or enjoy exercises in extreme frustration, then go for it.

Rating:  2 out of 5

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