The exorcism sub-genre has successfully stood its ground time and time again in every mode of the horror genre, so it’s a tough place to make your voice heard. Even then, Jordan Galland’s Ava’s Possessions is an absolute treat, not least because there seems to be a lack of post-exorcism films. Ava (Louisa Krause) is a young and beautiful girl who’s just been exorcised after a month of demon-fuelled mayhem. Agreeing to sign on with a support group for other people like her, Ava sets about atoning for her digressions, coming to terms with her benign other half, and unravelling the mystery of what happened to her.
Once the film starts, Galland quickly gets us on board, mixing his demonic PTS with staunch referencing, vibrant colouring, and a wicked sense of humour. The result is a Day-Glo package of horror goodies that might be camp as Christmas, but still has the balls to bite. Krause makes a splendid lead keeping a tight rein on Ava’s fluctuating personality and dark dark turns. Imagine Linda Blair going full-Cage for a demonic Bad Lieutenant and you’re getting closer to Ava’s Possessions. It’s a truly remarkable experiment in horror.
As with any experiment in horror, there might not be enough spooks and shade to keep genre-racists at bay, Ava’s Possessions is its own beast and doesn’t take kindly to shoehorning. Galland is an obvious fan of horror films, but he has no interest in recreating the gloomy nihilism of classic possession stories. Instead he exploits every facet of his script visually to ensure it’s a magnificent spectacle for any audience: a piece of possession pop art dripping with colour and an awareness of what its audience has seen and wants to see.
Like any great story, the film starts with the pieces scattered and shattered, confusingly, ominously out of reach. Like 13 Sins last year, Dead by Dawn 2015 has its twisting adventure: a moral sink-hole where characters and audience swirl until liberated by the crushing tide of familial secrets and spiritual danger. But the facts of the plot aren’t the only nostalgic endeavours. A fantastic, varied, and magnetic cast of genre regulars, and outright watchables, (William Saddler and Deborah Rush) pins Ava to the board of credibility in a rabid attempt at ensuring our engagement.
Whether or not Galland is a horror fan is totally irrelevant since the genre will only survive in the hands of people who have the audacity to change it, rather than releasing films that, though void of originals, are still really just remakes. Ava’s Possessions is a fresh-faced triumph and one of the most vibrant genre experiences you’ll have this year.