Ava is a young woman who is struggling to make amends and repent for things she did while possessed. Writer Jordan Galland created a universe where demonic and spiritual possession is such a common occurrence that there are support groups similar to Alcoholics Anonymous designed for those who have been occupied by other beings. Louisa Krause plays Ava, someone who was possessed and now must face the aftermath. Ava must meet people she wronged while possessed and make amends as part of her therapy and treatment, as well as to satisfy the court requirements and get back to her normal life.
The film takes a completely unique approach to the familiar trope of demonic possession. Ava is compelled not by the church, but by the legal system, to right her wrongs. She is forced to face her demons head on (literally and metaphorically) in order to be absolved of the crimes she committed while under demonic influence. As a result, Ava spends more time with pimps and prostitutes than she does with the Catholic Church, trying to sort out what happened to her while she was possessed.
At times Ava’s Possessions feels more like a sort of mystery-drama blend because so much of the plot is driven by Ava’s personal development. The movie manages to turn not only the demonic possession sub-genre on its head, but also the traditional coming of age story. Obviously in this tale Ava isn’t becoming a woman, but she is re-discovering who she was while possessed and trying to determine what that makes her, now. It isn’t all drama, though. The audience is treated to an assortment of creepy scenes involving the possessed, demons trying to reclaim their hosts, and a few bloody flashbacks to events that happened during Ava’s possession. However, the majority of the film is committed to character development and uncovering the mystery of Ava’s recent past. Horror fans committed exclusively to blood, guts, and gore may not appreciate the subtle approach this flick takes.
Although the writing is exceptional, this film would never have succeeded without its strong cast. Louisa Krause is compelling and believable in her portrayal of Ava. She succeeds in making the audience believe not only in the movie’s premise, that demonic possession is a problem recognized by the government, but also in the idea that there is little that a young woman committed to making up for her past transgressions can’t do. Alysia Reiner, most notable for her work as Natalie Figueroa on Orange is the New Black, plays a prostitute who proves to be an important piece in Ava’s ever-expanding puzzle.
As a horror fan, this movie is easy to appreciate because it takes a completely different approach to demons and witchcraft. Although the cinematography and lighting suggest this is a horror film like any other, the writing and acting defiantly take it in an entirely different direction. Seeing the aftermath of the possession, rather than focusing strictly on the violent actions taken during is an exciting twist on the genre, and one I’m thrilled to see.
The light-hearted nature of this film, and the fact that it chooses to do more character development than cutting up bodies makes it an excellent gateway feature for friends and family members who might not yet appreciate horror in all its bloody glory. What’s more, the plot has sufficient twists and turns to keep even the most skeptical viewer intrigued until the end.
WICKED RATING: [usr 6.5]
Director: Jordan Galland
Writer: Jordan Galland
Stars: Louisa Krause, Alysa Reiner, Carol Kane, William Sadler
Theatrical Release: March 4, 2016
Studio/Production Co: ODD NY, Off Hollywood Pictures, Ravenous Films, Traction Media
Length: 89 minutes
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi