For hardcore genre lovers like myself, it’s really hard for me to proactively choose a movie that bases itself around thematic elements that you would encounter in everyday life. For example, if you asked me to choose between a crappy zombie movie or a highly lauded coming-of-age drama, I would choose the zombie movie. Of course, as I have grown up, I have “forced” myself to watch a more well-rounded selection of titles, but I’m not going to lie. Very rarely do I have more than an intellectual and artistic appreciation for non-genre films.
Herein lies the magic, at least for this silly girl, of the genre-benders! Ava’s Possessions, by Jordan Galland, is just such a gem of a movie. When I first heard about it at SXSW, I was told it was an interesting take on addiction and the recovery process, where the main character is in rehab from a demonic possession, instead of a typical drug addiction. Seriously, all I heard was demonic possession and I was all in.
The movie has two major strengths. The first being the plot. It never drags its feet, and it offers a new discovery with every turn of scene. The film is a journey to find out what exactly happened while Ava was possessed. You see, Ava was an urban-chique, beautiful, 20-something woman, with an apparently blooming career and a well-to-do family. Her life is completely turned upside down, socially and professionally, when a very naughty and violent demon takes over her body for about a month. She has no recollection of the fact that she was possessed, or of what the demon did as he took her body for a destructive joyride.
The first scene in the movie is a point-of-view shot as her exorcism is finishing up. From then on, Ava is offered the choice of going to jail, being locked up in an asylum, or enrolling in an “AA” program for those recovering from demonic possession. She takes the obvious choice of recovery and begins the task of uncovering the horrible events that transpired in order to make amends. It’s an entertaining ride through the lighter side of demonic possession as the demon seems more interested in partying hard, getting laid, and causing chaos, than destroying lives for the sake of being evil. Of course, the demon proves to be very deadly, but not in the traditional way of most possession films.
Apart from the great pacing and engaging storyline, Ava’s Possessions is a gorgeous film and this is its second biggest strength. The set design is fabulous and the lighting was creative and fun. There is a rampant use of color and texture, which works beautifully to illuminate the chaos left in the demon’s wake. My favorite set is inside a prostitute’s sex-den, a mini-van. Seriously, whoever designed the interior of that van, I’d love for you to come decorate my bedroom. The vibrancy and beauty of the film’s palette pops deliciously on the big screen.
Performance-wise, our main character, Ava, played by Louisa Krause, effectively gets the job done. However, some of the best acting moments are delivered by Carol Kane in a deliciously fun role as an occult shop owner, and Dan Fogler, as Ava’s well-meaning lawyer. Also, it tickled my fancy to see Hemlock Grove’s Joel de la Fuente play the bruised up pimp, Escobar.
The script is decent, with understated situational irony as its strength. I’ve heard of it referred to as a comedy-horror, but I don’t feel like that’s the right way to categorize it. I felt more deep amusement than mirth. It would probably be safe to call it a dark comedy in that vein. You won’t necessarily laugh out loud, but you definitely appreciate the irony in many moments of the film.
Truly a fun and adventurous movie, I would gladly recommend it to those like me, who need a genre-twist to their film selections. As always, I bow to the filmmakers with appreciation to their craft. Wonderful job, and, yes, do keep them coming.
Diva Del Mar