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.
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