Exorcising my watchlist demons with this foursome. Was it worth opening myself up to possession? Let’s find out.
GATES OF DARKNESS (2019)
The director of Anaconda 3 and 4 goes in a different direction with a head-spinning take on the possession/exorcism genre. Despite featuring the likes of Adrienne Barbeau and Tobin Bell In fairly substantial roles, Gates of Darkness most definitely has a low budget feel and is a major slow burn until the final few minutes of exorcism action.
Even more than the pacing, the problem I had with this film is the absolutely awful audio mix. The dialogue is often impossible to hear, and because the film depends so much on it to tell a story, it is a major detractor.
The focus is a young, dark, brooding goth kid. His stepdad football coach pushes him to play, despite him hating it and the football team hating him. Tobin Bell is the head priest at his religious school, there’s a pretty boy priest who always gives goth boy eyes, and Adrienne Barbeau is goth boy’s grandmother, who seems to have a deeper knowledge of his troubled mind.
We get plenty of flashbacks of him experiencing something satanic as a child, and it becomes pretty obvious what kind of point this is making about priests and the church, so there really are no surprises.
The exorcism in the final act has some cool satanic and demonic visuals, but don’t expect our goth boy to go totally Linda Blair. It is fun watching Tobin Bell as an exorcist though.
UNHUMAN NATURE (2020)
Even though this is a short, 65-minute film, it feels longer because it is very dialogue driven. It’s also a Wendingo story, but it comes across as more your basic demonic possession in the woods movie.
It’s unnecessarily told through flashbacks when an FBI agent under psychiatric care tells his story of working on a sex trafficking case.
He ends up investigating animal attacks and disappearances in the woods instead. Eventually a hunter who believes in the Wendingo steps in to help him hunt it, but this seems to imply that the creature takes over the bodies of men, so what we get is guys with white demon eyes and bloody mouths running around the woods.
There’s nothing new here, and I don’t feel it’s intense enough to warrant a watch even if you’re into this subgenre.
THE WHISPERING MAN (2019)
This 73-minute movie is just more generic found footage fodder. If you watch a lot of found footage films, you’ve seen this all before.
Here’s the bullet you can dodge by skipping this movie:
**SPOILERS**: A guy inherits a picture of an alien that his grandmother used to call the whispering man. While filming his paranormal show with friends at grandma’s house, he dreams of an old building. He goes to it and is chased by some scary people in COVID masks.
He becomes possessed, then calls his friends over to the house to kill them on camera for his “final” show.
THE CLEANSING HOUR (2019)
Before I even went into this film, the description had me thinking, I’ve seen a movie just like this. When I began watching it I was thinking, this is the same damn movie. Then I remembered the lead possessed girl in the movie I saw was someone I knew and was surprised to see in the role. After sitting for a few minutes, it clicked that it was Heather Morris from Glee. So I looked it up on IMDB. She was in the short film that was adapted into this full-length feature!
The plot is about a young, sexy priest and his buddies who do a totally staged, live reality show performing exorcisms.
We soon question how priestly this dude is, between having sex with a woman and inviting his drag queen friend to play the next possessed victim on the show.
Sadly, things fall through with the drag queen, so a replacement is put in place. The show begins, and before long, it becomes clear that something is very wrong. This bitch really is possessed!
If you’re a big fan of the rash of possession films that flooded the market in the past decade, this is one of the higher quality ones to watch. There’s some clever, understated humor, the effects are excellent, the demon girl rocks, and the hot priest gets naked!
Themes of religion and faith are explored as the demon fucks with the minds of the show’s crew, and there are several twists and turns before the film comes to a very odd conclusion. It’s a fun ride, but it does stretch out a little longer than it needs to, so it lags a bit in the middle. But hey, at least there’s a final boss battle.