31 Days of Halloween — Day 11: Ava’s Possessions (2015) — by Dr. Shock

31 Days of Halloween - Ava's Possessions 2015

Editor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast, Universal Monsters Cast and Land of the Creeps horror podcasts. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

This 2015 movie begins where most other possession-themed horror films end: with an exorcism.

A priest (John Ventimiglia), standing at the foot of a bed, is grasping his prayer book, ordering a demon to leave its host while the relatives of the possessed girl, whose name is Ava (Louisa Krause), stand in the background, watching silently. Ava, strapped to her bed, is growling and thrashing about as she drifts in and out of consciousness. The entire scene is shot POV, from Ava’s perspective, and moments before the priest finally banishes the evil entity back to hell, Ava (still under demonic control) turns toward a mirror, smiles at her reflection, and says “Hello, gorgeous!”

Along with setting up the story, this opening lets us know that writer / director Jordan Ballard’s “Ava’s Possessions” is going to be as much a comedy as it is a horror film.

Now that the devil inside of her has been vanquished, Ava is ready to get on with her life. But a lot happened during her 28-day possession, most of which she doesn’t remember. For example, as a result of her recent erratic behavior, Ava’s friends are convinced she’s the queen bitch, and want nothing to do with her. Neither does her longtime boyfriend, who apparently dumped her for hooking up with another guy in front of him, and seeing as nobody called her in sick, poor Ava is probably unemployed.

What’s more, Ava is in trouble with the law (it seems she did some very bad things while under the influence of that demon), and could be looking at some serious jail time.

Her parents (Deborah Rush and William Sadler) tell Ava she should look at this whole possession episode as a “wake-up call,” while her sister Jillian (Whitney Able) and Jillian’s fiancé Roger (Zachary Booth) do their best to support Ava in her time of need. Meanwhile, J.J. Samson (Dan Fogler), the lawyer hired by her parents, tells Ava that, if she wants to stay out of prison, she’ll have to join a support group for the recently possessed, which meets in a local community center once a week and is run by a guy named Tony (Wass Stevens).

But that’s not all; while cleaning her apartment one night, Ava finds a blood stain on her carpet, as well as a man’s watch with a name engraved on it. To try and determine what might have happened (and whose blood it is), she eventually meets up with Ben (Lou Taylor Pucci), an art dealer and the son of the watch’s owner. Alas, Ben has no idea where his father is, nor can he answer any of Ava’s questions.

Then, on top of everything else, the demon that possessed Ava has started coming around again, and is doing everything in its power to “re-enter” her body. Can Ava fight off this evil spirit, or will she once again fall under its spell?

“Ava’s Possessions” is a clever, sometimes funny look at what happens to the possessed after the demon has been expelled, and it features a solid performance by Louisa Krause as the title character, who tries to get on with her life while at the same time realizing nothing will ever be the same again. In addition, the movie has a few laugh-out-loud moments (most of which come courtesy of the support group Ava joins); a perplexing mystery (To figure out what happened in her living room, Ava is forced to visit some seedy areas of town); and a few legitimate scares (one involving a little girl on a staircase sent a shiver up my spine).

There’s even a scene in which Ava helps Hazel (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), a fellow member of her support group, get back in touch with the demon that once controlled her. Ever since her possession ended, Hazel has felt like something is missing form her life, and is convinced that she and her malevolent spirit were meant to be together. By looking at demonic possession from many different angles, “Ava’s Possessions” manages to distinguish itself in a sub-genre that, in recent years, has been done to death.

Alas, “Ava’s Possessions” ultimately bites off more than it can chew (along with the comedy and horror, Ava has a brief romantic fling with Ben) and when the end credits roll, some of the film’s subplots are left hanging. But as a unique spin on the possession sub-genre, “Ava’s Possessions” has plenty to offer and is guaranteed to entertain.

—Dr. Shock

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3 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 11: Ava’s Possessions (2015) — by Dr. Shock


    Day 11 – Leatherface (2017)

    Generally speaking, I’m quite a fan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. It isn’t a series I tend to think about when it comes to my favorite horror series, but other than Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation, I’ve enjoyed every other movie in the series. I’m someone who believes Leatherface: TCM 3 is is underrated and great despite being destroyed by MPAA. Apparently, I’m also one of the very few people that loved Texas Chainsaw 3D. Despite my fondness for the series, it’s also an incredibly frustrating series due to the lack of continuity. Everything is fine with the first two, but once Leatherface: TCM came out, every film was practically a remake, whether officially or unofficially. Sometimes there’d be connections to other movies, other times there would not. Rather than create new family members in the sequels/remakes, I wished the series had just focused on the core family of the Drayton/the cook, the hitchhiker/Nubbins, Chop-Top, Grandpa, and of course Leatherface.

    It’s due to this that the opening scene of Leatherface (That’s Leatherface (2017) not Leatherface: TCM III since apparently this series is incapable of coming up with new titles) started off the movie on such a high note. As Leatherface celebrates his birthday and given his first chainsaw, we see familiar faces around the table including Drayton, a young Nubbins, a lively Grandpa, and Grandma. I’m all for a movie that focuses on the Sawyer family and we get to know these family members better prior to the start of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. My first annoyance of the movie came as the movie immediately shifts away from this family, jumps ahead in time, and instead we’re forced to spend nearly the rest of the movie with five unlikable characters, four of which are escaped inmates at a mental asylum, one of which is a future Leatherface although we don’t know which, and the fifth is a nurse at the asylum that is forced to be their captive. As the group continues their travels to the safety of Mexico, we spend an equal amount of time with the corrupt Sheriff Hartman. There is not a single character in this entire movie that I like. Everyone is either unlikable or their characters are so unremarkable. Even the nurse, Lizzy, is essentially nothing more than someone made to be a victim. We don’t learn a single thing about her and it’s because of that that I struggle to care if she lives or dies. Just because a character isn’t a villain doesn’t mean I care about them.

    The supposed appeal of the film is the whole mystery over which character will end up being Leatherface. Of the escaped inmates, there’s three suspects. First up is Ike. While Ike is a natural villain and a psychopath at that, he’s not like Leatherface at all. So right away, you knew that he wouldn’t be Leatherface. Next up was the large Bud. Bud is exactly what you’d expect a young Leatherface to look and act like. He’s a big hulking silent character that while he does have a kind heart, he’s prone to snapping and killing. However, I also quickly dismissed Bud as possibly being Leatherface because he was too obvious. If he was to be Leatherface, why even bother having a mystery? That only leaves Jackson, which creates another annoyance I had with the film. Jackson is a bit of a charismatic guy who in shape and attractive. The idea that this guy would end up becoming Leatherface is laughable. I believe Jackson was chosen for Leatherface solely so that this film would have an unexpected twist. I hate it.

    Speaking of hating aspects about this film, I hated how this didn’t feel like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. Whether it’s true or not, I get the impression that this film was an unrelated script that was collecting dust for years before it was edited to include a few connections to Leatherface so that it could get made. The characters of Ike and Clarice feel like a cheap version of Natural Born Killers’ Mickey and Mallory. These two characters do not feel as if they fit in a TCM story. Similarly to how Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects felt like Zombie’s ode to the gritty films of the 70s, in particular Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film felt like an ode to Zombie’s films. Unfortunately, they remind me more of the post-Devil’s Rejects projects from Zombie than Zombie’s good movies. A big reason why The Devil’s Rejects worked so well is that there was emotion connected to the characters. Every character was unlikable to some extent, but they were likable in terms of their connection and love for each other.

    The style is another swing and a miss for me. To save some money, I imagine, there’s a ton of blood, but each kill is shot in such a way that you either don’t see the damage being done or it’s cut in a style where you don’t properly see it. For example, an early bloody kill happens while the light flickers on and off over and over throughout the kill. It’s just uncomfortable to watch, not because it’s too intense, but because it hurts my eyes. The cinematography also has this jittery jerking style that is shown every minute or so throughout the entire movie. I’d compare it to watching a DVD where there’s too many fingerprints on the disc, so it plays poorly.

    Overall, I went into Leatherface with the impression that it can’t possibly be any worse than Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation. As it turns out. It wasn’t. It just came extremely close. The film tries to be a mixture of The Devil’s Rejects and Natural Born Killers, but it never finds the heart that is so clearly there for both of those superior films. I don’t expect much from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, just Leatherface doing his thing by hacking up innocent people and revving up his chainsaw and I felt robbed of even that.

    Rating: 2.5/10

    • I seriously couldn’t have worded a review better than that.
      The “Who is LeatherFace” arc was the most annoyingly awful thing that I’ve seen in horror this year.
      A lot of people who’s opinion I respect actually enjoyed this thin resemblance to a TCM film, so I’m glad to see others shared my overall lack of enthusiasm & thinking the twist is completely ridiculous.
      The thought that LeatherFace spent 18 or so years looking like a Calvin Klein model with the charm of Don Draper & then becoming a COMPLETE MENTALLY DISABLED DISFIGURED MUTE in a snap is insulting to the viewer.
      I painfully had to watch this back to back with the underwhelming & made for a quick buck “The Houses October Built 2” (I liked the 1’st THOB, haha THOB) made for a painfully frustrating evening.
      Luckily, films like Happy Hunting, Bag Boy Loverboy, & Die Laughing were watched within the same 2 weeks as the terrible 2 mentioned above, so those great films more than made up for the garbage.
      Also, luckily the year is ending on a high note as several more acclaimed Indies are coming out to add to a very solid year in horror & the box office success of movies like IT & Get Out will guarantee that plenty of horror movies (Good & Bad) will continue to get green lit, & that’s something we all should be happy about.

  2. Day 11: Undocumented (2010)

    This is a fictional found footage film based on a very real social issue. US film students follow illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States and are captured, along with the immigrants, by radical racist patriots. The radicals torture illegal immigrants to dissuade others from crossing the border illegally.

    This film is real, raw, and intense. The actors do a great job in what must have been a very difficult film to make. The horror and gore are very extreme and although the social critique is not subtle, there are little gems of dialogue sprinkled throughout the film that are intelligent and thought provoking. This is director Chris Peckover’s first film and it is very different from his followup, Better Watch Out (2017). Undocumented is a very hard to watch film because of the extreme violence but those who dare to watch will not easily forget this powerful film. 8.5/10

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