New Horror Releases: American Exorcism (2017) - Reviewed

Damon Richter has special abilities that allow him to help people who are the victims of possession. He leaves this world behind him when something goes horribly wrong, but is pulled back in several years later in order to save his estranged daughter. This is the basic and spoiler free premise for American Exorcism, which plays out like the southern California surfing version of DC comics Hellblazer. It’s fitting to compare it to Hellblazer and its television counterpart Constantine, as it would fit right into The CW lineup as a supernatural television series. Despite containing an interesting lead character and concept, it ultimately suffers from a slow pace and too many unrealistic situations. 

American Exorcism does manage to set itself apart from the pack by eliminating most of the typical Christian religious references and rituals. While there is a priest that serves as Damon’s partner, the reliance on his craft is kept to a minimum. Instead the focus is more on Damon’s abilities, which is a combination of magic or sorcery, ancient religious practices, and some MMA style fighting. His ritualistic practices are full of grunts and speaking in tongues, resembling the comic book characters John Constantine and Doctor Strange more than Ed and Lorraine Warren from The Conjuring or Father Merrin from The Exorcist

The acting has to be this movie’s greatest attribute, with fine performances from most of the cast. Michael Filipowich is a unique character in Damon, a foul mouthed surfer dude with long hair, beard, and tattoos who also happens to be able to fight demons. His counterpart is the laid back William McKinney as Padre, who plays off of Damon well and serves as a counterbalance to his partner. Jessica Morris also has a fine performance as Damon’s wife in her minimal on screen time. 

The special effects and fight choreography are serviceable and are what you might come to expect from an indie film or television show. In essence, this could be considered an extended version of an episode for a supernatural television series. Had it been pared down to a running time of fifty minutes it might have been a far more successful product, eliminating the slow pace and packing the scenes with action and excitement closer together. In the end, American Exorcism has its merits and has its issues. If you like movies or television shows about demonic possession or supernatural elements, then you may enjoy this picture.

American Exorcism will be in select theaters and VOD on May 2, 2017.

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