Despite a clever – if not particularly original – idea, this pseudo-documentary horror movie is let down by an immensely frustrating ending and some less than convincing performances. It continues the current (and fast becoming over-used) fad with “found footage” material, and builds its approach around some passable scenes of possession and exorcism without ever pushing too hard into hardcore horror. This means that those who enjoy a good fright – along with those who like a strong story – will surely be disappointed.
Opening with scenes from police cameras and TV news reports, we learn that Maria Rossi (Susan Crowley) has murdered three people while undergoing an exorcism at her home in the USA. After being found not guilty because of a mental condition, she is sent to a high security institution for the criminally insane in Rome. Twenty years later her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) decides to take a cameraman Michael (Ionut Grama) to Italy and make a documentary about her mum and revisit the lapsed mother-daughter relationship. In Rome she attends some classes at Exorcism School (that’s what they call it) where she meets American priest and medical doctor David (Evan Helmuth) and British priest and exorcist guru Ben (Simon Quarterman). Together they agree to find out what’s going on inside mama. It’s not a pretty sight.
Writer & director William Brent Bell seems to have whipped the film up in a low-budget frenzy, with little regard for storytelling structure or pacing. Whilst a couple of the exorcisms we witness are seriously creepy (thanks to some bone-bending body moves from British contortionist Pixie Le Knot), the tension is often destroyed by the excessively expositional dialogue or the acting. It’s a clearly a B-grade Paranormal Activity rip-off with extra holy water and genuflection. The film opens with a warning that the Catholic Church has refused to help finish the film. That’s no excuse for the director doing the same.