Review: 'Exorcismus' aka 'The Possession of Emma Evans'


It'd be hard to overstate the influence that William Peter Blatty and William Friedkin's The Exorcist has had on horror cinema, and to some degree that's sort of a shame. Here we are, more than 35 years after the cinematic debut of that highly-adored occult classic ... and still it's being remade every three or four years. With few deviations and few exceptions, The Exorcist has been revisited at least 40 times. Looking back only a few years we see the half-decent The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the unwatchable Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers, and the unexpectedly clever The Last Exorcism, which works because it focuses not on the possessed person, but (aha) the exorcist himself.

Of course this is nothing new. Back when The Exorcist was still hot news, the knock-offs were called Abby, Beyond the Door, The Possessed, The Antichrist, and on and on. I offer this brief history lesson to illustrate a point: the new Spanish import Exorcismus (aka The Possession of Emma Evans) offers nothing you haven't seen in the aforementioned (and probably superior) horror movies. That's not to say that last year's The Last Exorcism has to be the LAST one, but this tiresome, obvious, and gradually irritating latecomer is precisely what we don't need more of from the sub-genre.

Yawn when this gets familiar: a fifteen-ear-old girl has a few fits, so her parents take her for medical tests. The exams reveal nothing but the little spaz-outs keep happening. Eventually the girl starts to float, and then she stops. Then a priest is invited over to perform an exorcism. The girl vomits a lot, says horribly unpleasant things, and does some creepy sexual stuff too. (This film think it's subtle that young Emma only suffers a "fit" after some form of sexual thought or urge -- like after tickling her naked little brother in the bathtub.) There's also a clunky subplot about the priest (who's also Emma's "uncle" for no good reason) and a previous exorcism that (get this) went horribly wrong. Still awake?

Filmmakers Manuel Carballo (director) and David Munoz (screenwriter) are, based on their IMDb pages, regular 9 to 5ers at Filmax, the Spanish production company that specializes in genre fare for television and (ostensibly) cinemas, but what they've cooked up here is little more than a generic little 30-minute time-waster that's been mercilessly stretched into a redundant, unoriginal chore. Not even a few third act plot contortions can salvage the flick from its fairly shameless intent to color within the established lines. Aside from a few moments of eye-rolling silliness, the flick isn't even kind enough to be BAD bad, which would at least alleviate the tedium.

And what the hell does "Exorcismus" mean anyway?