Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#2,441. Ava's Possessions (2015)

Directed By: Jordan Galland

Starring: Louisa Krause, Whitney Able, Deborah Rush

Tag line: "She can handle her spirits"

Trivia: The film had its world premiere on April 26, 2015 at the Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival

This 2015 movie begins where most possession-themed horror films end: with an exorcism.

A priest (John Ventimiglia), standing at the foot of a bed, is grasping his prayer book, ordering a demon to leave it’s host as the relatives of the possessed girl, whose name is Ava (Louisa Krause), stand silently in the background. Strapped to her bed, Ava growls and thrashes uncontrollably as she drifts in and out of consciousness. 

The entire scene is shot POV, from Ava’s perspective, and moments before the priest banishes the evil entity back to hell, Ava (still under demonic control) turns to a mirror, smiles at her reflection, and says “Hello, gorgeous!

Along with setting up the story, this opening lets us know that writer / director Jordan Ballard’s Ava’s Possessions is going to be as much a comedy as it is a horror film.

Now that the demon inside of her has been vanquished, Ava is ready to get on with her life. But a lot happened during her 28-day possession, most of which she doesn’t remember. For example, as a result of her recent "erratic" behavior, Ava’s friends are convinced she’s the queen bitch, and want nothing to do with her. Neither does her longtime boyfriend, who apparently dumped her for hooking up with another guy in front of him, and seeing as nobody bothered to call her in sick, poor Ava is most likely unemployed.

Adding insult to injury, Ava is in trouble with the law. It seems she did some very bad things while under the influence of that demon, and could be looking at some serious jail time.

Her parents (Deborah Rush and William Sadler) tell Ava she should look at this whole possession episode as a “wake-up call”, while her sister Jillian (Whitney Able) and Jillian’s fiance Roger (Zachary Booth) do their best to support Ava in her time of need. 

J.J. Samson (Dan Fogler), the lawyer hired by her parents, tells Ava that, if she wants to stay out of prison, she’ll have to join a support group for the recently possessed, which meets at a local community center once a week and is run by a guy named Tony (Wass Stevens).

While cleaning her apartment one night, Ava finds a blood stain on her carpet, as well as a man’s watch, with a name engraved on it. To determine what might have happened (and whose blood it is), she gets in touch with Ben (Lou Taylor Pucci), an art dealer and the son of the watch’s owner. Alas, Ben has no idea where his father is, nor can he answer any of Ava’s questions.

Then, on top of everything else, the demon that possessed Ava is still hanging around, and doing everything in its power to “re-enter” her body. Can Eva fend off this evil spirit, or will she once again fall under its spell?

Ava’s Possessions is a clever, often funny look at what happens to the possessed after the demon has been expelled, and features a solid performance by Louisa Krause as the title character, who tries to put what happened behind her while at the same time realizing nothing will ever be the same again. In addition, the movie has a few laugh out loud moments (most of which come courtesy of the support group Ava joins); a perplexing mystery (to figure out what happened in her living room, Ava visits some seedy areas of town); and a few legitimate scares (one featuring a little girl on a staircase sent a shiver down my spine).

There’s even a scene in which Ava helps Hazel (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), a fellow member of her support group, get back in touch with the demon that once controlled her. Ever since her possession ended, Hazel has felt like something was missing form her life, and is convinced she and her malevolent spirit were meant to be together. By looking at demonic possession from many different sides, Ava’s Possessions manages to distinguish itself in a subgenre that has been done to death.

Alas, Ava’s Possessions ultimately bites off more than it can chew. Along with the comedy and horror, Ava has a brief romantic fling with Ben that just doesn't work, and by the time the end credits roll some of the film’s subplots are left unresolved. But as a unique spin on the possession subgenre, Ava’s Possessions has plenty to offer, and is guaranteed to entertain.

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