DECEMBER 22, 2012
Fuck Citizen Kane. No, really, I wish it didn't exist. Because it's one of the greatest movies of all time (and holds up rather well, thankfully), it understandably inspires many an aspiring filmmaker to believe that they, like Welles, can star, direct, write, and produce a film themselves, when in reality it's only the rare genius like Welles that can pull it off (Shane Carruth is another; if you haven't seen Primer yet, please go do that). Thus, we as a people are cursed with lots of movies like Legion: The Final Exorcism (aka Costa Chica: Confession of an Exorcist), for which David Heavener performed the same roles Welles did on Kane, but with vastly different results.
Sadly, I can't even say it's the Citizen Kane of horror movies with demonic pigs, because Amityville probably has that covered, but I can't help but wonder if it might have been at least a little better had Heavener (awesome name for a guy making an Exorcist wannabe, though) let someone else handle a duty or two. I certainly think he could have used someone else's hand in the script, for starters - perhaps someone who knew about the Catholic faith to know that their priests aren't allowed to marry and/or have children, and thus the main character's tragic back-story (their death seemingly caused him to quit being a priest) makes little sense to anyone who might find this stuff interesting anyway (meaning: Catholics). At least, unless he knows something I don't? His IMDb bio says he also performs Christian music, so he must have some knowledge of this stuff - did they change that rule since I was a regular (the 90s)?
Also, perhaps another writer would say "Hey, should we be ripping off Exorcist THIS much? I mean we got the priest who has lost his faith, the possessed girl with an absent father, the foul mouthed demon, the priest saying "TAKE ME!" when performing his exorcism..." To be fair, I've seen movies that rip it off even more, but usually those are more competent in other areas, whereas this film is laughably cheap looking, poorly edited (was this a TV movie? It looks like it's going to commercial breaks a few times), and stars a guy who opted to give himself a near-constant, badly recorded voiceover, one that sucked me out of the movie every single time since it sounded like the disembodied narrator for a true crime TV show instead of the main character reflecting on his adventure.
Heavener himself isn't TOO bad in the lead role; he's obviously no Jason Miller, but again, I've seen worse. Still, with another actor playing the lead (even Roddy Piper, who has a bit part as the possessed girl's uncle), maybe he could have focused more on his direction and producing, so that scenes like the one where he goes to the (Van Nuys!) police station don't resemble cell phone footage. Most of the other actors are even worse, particularly the girl at the morgue, though the possessed girl (Roddy's daughter, apparently) is pretty good, embracing the physicality required when she's going full demon and handling the quieter moments just as well.
Still, what minor things it gets right doesn't change the fact that this is another by the numbers exorcism flick, albeit with a lot of unintentionally hilarious stuff that's supposed to be scary. I don't know what's funnier - the talking demon pig or the chicken attack, but it doesn't matter because neither of them are supposed to be making me laugh. It's a bit gorier than most of the others (particularly the two films from which it stole its new name), but apart from a nice face chewing, there's nothing special about any of it - it's just there to (I assume) try to distract us from all the liberally stolen plot points from other films. And Heavener makes matters worse for himself by attempting a plot twist stolen from Lethal Weapon 2! Apparently (spoiler?) the demon was trying to get at him years ago when it "accidentally" killed his family instead, but at least in Lethal it was just a fun coincidence for the villain - here we learn that the demon was apparently doing all of this for another chance to get him. Yet, he still gives some extra back-story to the reason THIS girl was possessed (involving some sexual abuse), making it more muddled and nonsensical than it seemed when all we knew was that it had a demonic talking pig. FOCUS, Mr. Heavener!
Any doubt in my mind that Dave fancied himself a maestro was forever destroyed when I popped in the disc's only extra beyond a trailer reel - a making of that starts with him chomping on a cigarillo and ends with him saying something like "See you next time!" and a closeup on his director's chair, with everything in between either showing him directing or having him operate the camera as he talked to his actors. It's like, the movie was pretty much all him (he even sang the song over the credits, which had some fun misspellings like "Exorsicm" and "Redemtion"), but he even had to hog the making of himself. But hey, the guy's made like 15 movies like this and still acts, so whatever system he has in place for making these things must be working. I've never seen any others; perhaps some of them are a little more original and interesting. But will they have Roddy Piper actually saying "They Live" (not once but twice), or can we only get that bit of meta-nonsense in this?
What say you?