Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by The Asylum
Clark, I'm going to have to see her.
Be my guest. We locked her in the garage.
Written and directed by Leigh Scott
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 85 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on January 31st, 2006
Noel Thurman as Anne Pederson
Griff Furst as Clark Pederson
David Shick as Dr. Richard Thornhill
Tom Downey as Father Thomas Bates
Erica Roby as Gail Bowers
Shortly after the death of their parents, Gail and Anne, along with Anne’s husband, Clark, move to a new house with the hopes of a new start.
Clark (Griff Furst – Dead Men Walking) and Anne (Noel Thurman – The Beast of Bray Road) buy a jeep for Gail (Erica Roby), with the condition she starts going to college. Gail reluctantly agrees, and she and her new friend, Francie (Rebekah Kochan – When a Killer Calls), take the jeep out for a spin. Things seems to be looking up.
Not only is Francie the new friend, she’s also the town jezebel. And like every jezebel worth her salt, Francine provides Gail with some liquor and turns her on to the dark magics — aka, the Ouija board.
We all know nothing good comes from two hot girls trying to communicate with the dead — and this is no exception.
Francie is shortly dispatched, and Gail starts going through changes.
And it ain’t puberty.
After tackling such monsters as werewolves, zombies and aliens, it was only a matter of time before The Asylum attempted an exorcism.
But maybe they should have waited.
It also has a very strong finish — the battle between Gail, three priests and a shrink. Four against one doesn’t seem fair. Four just isn’t enough.
It’s the middle that suffers.
The first problem is first-time actress Erica Roby as Gail. She has to sell the story, as everything is centered on her, but she’s just not experienced enough to pull off such a demanding role. Yet. Because there are times where Roby comes off extremely believable. Unfortunately, in this type of movie and part, one has to be believable 100 percent of the time, or the suspense disappears with the believability.
Also, something that has worked extremely well in other Asylum films works against Exorcism:
The movie does have comedic moments—intentionally comedic moments. Laugh-out-loud funny moments. But, sadly, in the wrong spots. When the scene is intended to be a serious one — such as Gail levitating in the air — a one-liner hurts the moment rather than help it. Tension should not be broken in a situation like this. Such one-liners work when fighting zombies or angry pirates, but not when fighting the inner demons (literally) of a young woman. Unless, of course, the movie is a spoof, which Exorcism most definitely isn’t.
And I so badly wanted to give kudos for a kick-ass nod to The Exorcist III — arguably the best in the Exorcist franchise. Because, really, how often do you see a nod to that most-underrated sequel to the granddaddy of all exorcism movies? Yet, like the jokes, it was out of place.
However, there is an equal amount of good in the mix. Griff Furst, as Clark, plays the struggling husband role with ease. And God bless Leigh Scott’s script for having Clark stand strong when Evil Gail tries to seduce him in the kitchen. Lord knows, I would have succumbed to that dirty, dirty girl with her dirty, dirty mouth. Thanks for taking one for the team and making us all look good, Clark.
Also, Thomas Downey as Father Bates is certainly not your average man of the cloth. He’s a bad-ass. He will make you see the light and like it. There are a couple of scenes where Downey is surprisingly wooden, but he makes up for these few scenes in spades at the end, and all is forgiven. So much so, a movie is in order furthering The Adventures of Father Thomas Bates.
Noel Thurman and David Schick, as Anne and Dr. Richard Thornhill, respectively, are admirable in their roles. Schick is a little over-the-top at times, but not enough to distract from the movie.
And, once again, The Asylum comes through with the effects. Exorcism isn’t the gore-fest Dead Men Walking was, but the effects are just as good because they are just as effective. From the complexity of the makeup of both the possessed girl in the beginning and Gail’s descent into hell to the simplicity of a video, Exorcism took it back old school and went, for the most part, sans CGI. Good for The Asylum. I like CGI, but if you can go without, go without.
Sadly, however, neither the special effects, nor the stronger performances, could help Exorcism be anything above average.
Video and Audio:
Exorcism’s anamorphic presentation is a bit soft and grainy, with muted colors and an almost orangish-yellow filter. The filter is intentional, so that’s forgivable — even if it is somewhat distracting as it sometimes gives the actors a spray-on-tan appearance.
Blacks are solid, for the most part, which is good, as most of the movie takes place in the darkened house.
The grain I can do without.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack utilizes the rears heavily. At times, even the score is kicking different instruments out of different speakers. This is worth mentioning because The Asylum is one of the few smaller studios that puts so much care into its soundtracks.
A 2.0 track is also offered.
Up first is a behind-the-scenes featurette running just under four minutes. The featurette concentrates mainly on director and writer Leigh Scott, speaking on how the film came to be. In addition, it shows how two of the film’s special effects were done—one of which is genius in its simplicity.
There are five minutes of deleted scenes that are thankfully gone from the movie, as they add nothing. However, one scene is particularly interesting to watch, as it has the original actor who played Father Bates — who was later replace by Thomas Downey. It’s a neat “what almost was” moment.
I’m a fan of blooper reels when done right, and the 4½ minutes didn’t disappoint.
The commentary-with-everyone-involved-in-the-movie is a step forward for The Asylum — because one of the first things said as introductions are going around is the instruction to speak closer to the mic. YES! Thank you, Asylum! There are still times when the volume has to be adjusted so someone can be heard, but it isn’t as distracting as the studio’s previous commentaries.
The commentary itself covers such important things like why Clark’s wedding band spins, the story of the house used for filming really being haunted, white trash ice cream and whose boobs get the most screen time. An enjoyable commentary to say the least.
Rounding the DVD out are trailers for King of the Lost World, Dead Men Walking, Shapeshifter, Resident Demon and Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers.
Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers had tremendous potential in the strong beginning and ending. But the rushed feeling of the lackluster middle kept it from being something special. Still worth a rental for its old-school CGI-less effects, but I can’t recommend a purchase for this one.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)