thu 18/07/2024

The Exorcism review - salvaged horror movie is a diabolical mess | reviews, news & interviews

The Exorcism review - salvaged horror movie is a diabolical mess

The Exorcism review - salvaged horror movie is a diabolical mess

Russell Crowe fights losing battle against booze and the devil

'What! They're gonna release it?' Russell Crowe as Anthony Miller

Helpfully, this is a film that reviews itself. Like it says on the posters, “They were making a cursed movie. They were warned not to. They should have listened.”

If ever a film was meant not to be, here it is. Apparently it was going to be called The Georgetown Project, and writer-director Joshua John Miller shot the bulk of it in South Carolina in 2019. Then it was shelved, not least because of Covid. It was belatedly resurrected and some extra scenes added, but the botched-together result is dead on arrival.

Not the least perplexing thing about it is how Russell Crowe, who was once a copper-bottomed, ocean-going megastar, got involved in the first place. Perhaps there’s a kind of bleak irony in the fact that he plays failing movie star Anthony Miller, who has been wallowing in a self-destructive daze thanks to bereavement and far too much alcohol and is trying to make a comeback by starring in what appears to be a remake of The Exorcist. What nobody bargained for was that the production itself was going to be haunted by the devil, who bumped off the original actor whom Miller is replacing.

But Crowe gets enough scenes here to suggest that this could have been a persuasive performance, had it been fully realised and framed within a coherent whole. Similarly, there’s some perfectly respectable work from Ryan Simpkins as his daughter Lee, trying to reconnect with her dad after his battle to beat the bottle, while David Hyde Pierce (Niles from Frasier) patiently impersonates Father Conor, a kindly priest (and trained psychologist) who provides on-set spiritual guidance (pictured above, Simpkins, Pierce and Chloe Bailey).

But the film’s fragmented gestation has left it feeling like a bin full of leftovers. Scenes merely happen, with no sense of logical development. There’s no coherent sense of place, and it’s impossible to tell whether scenes from Miller’s tormented private life are talking place in his apartment or on the film’s elaborately constructed set. The story tracks the film’s progress via captions saying “Shoot, Day Nine” or whatever, but since the addled Miller can’t remember his lines it’s difficult to see how they can shoot anything at all. Peter, the film’s director, is played like a sadistic torturer by Adam Goldberg, whose idea of motivation is to remind Miller of how he betrayed his terminally-ill wife and is a despicable failure as a human being. Brief glimpses of Sam Worthington suggest that he was scheduled for a bigger role that didn’t materialise.

Long story short, the devil rides in and everything goes to hell. Thank heavens for small mercies.

If ever a film was meant not to be, here it is

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Average: 1 (1 vote)

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