'Ava's Possessions' (2016)

Ava's Possessions
© Momentum

Synopsis: Recovering from the effects of a demonic possession, a young woman joins a support group in hopes of regaining her memory of what happened while her body was taken over.

Cast: Louisa Krause, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jemima Kirke, Whitney Able, Dan Fogler, William Sadler, Carol Kane, Alysia Reiner, Deborah Rush

Director: Jordan Galland

Studio: Momentum Pictures

MPAA Rating: R

Running Time: 87 minutes

Release Date: March 4, 2016 (limited/on demand)

Ava's Possessions Movie Trailer

Ava's Possessions Movie Review

In 2010, writer-director Jordan Galland brought us a vampires-in-theater comedy, and now, six years later, he returns with another quirky supernatural juxtaposition, the demons-in-therapy film Ava's Possessions.

The Plot

Ava (Louisa Krause) awakens from a haze to find out from her concerned family she's been possessed by a demon for nearly a month. After undergoing a prolonged exorcism, she's back to normal but with no memory of the past few weeks -- although her semi-estranged friends are quick to clue her in on the mayhem she caused while "under the influence," including drug use, assault and wanton sex with their boyfriends and anyone else within reach.

Also filling her in on her misdeeds is a lawyer who informs her that she can avoid jail time if she joins a support group for people recovering from possession, called Spirit Possession Anonymous. Through the group, she attempts to make amends with those she harmed while possessed and tries to piece together the story behind an antique watch and an accompanying patch of blood she finds in her apartment. The pressure is on, though, as Ava begins to experience haunting visions that indicate her demon wants back in. Can she hold it off long enough to solve the mystery?

The End Result

I've always found it interesting to imagine what happens in horror movies after the credits roll. Typically, we're left with a hero or heroine faced with the task of trying to convince authorities they're not the person responsible for the 18 bodies strewn across the bloody campground, but Ava's Possessions presents a lighthearted take on what might happen after a demonic possession scenario like The Exorcist.

There's something fun about the concept of treating possession like a drunken spree that ends in a blackout, memory loss and the resulting investigation into what happened the night before -- and indeed, Ava's Possessions begins with a certain goofy appeal, but rather than go down an enjoyably silly Hangover or Dude, Where's My Car avenue, it becomes increasingly serious, creating an awkward middle-of-the-road tone in which neither comedy nor horror delivers a punch.

As Rosencrantz showed, Galland's forte is conversational humor, so his attempts to generate actual scares and shocks fall flat -- and aren't done any favors by the Halloween store makeup effects. Given the quirky poster and opening sequence, it's clear the movie wants to go an unconventional route, making its frequently rote horror approach all the more stupefying.

Perhaps even more frustrating, however, is the story. The plot feels even more half-baked than the tone, rife with unbelievable characters, emotions that ring hollow and a mystery that feels forced. The whole central concept of Ava discovering the secret behind this particular violent act (which, for some reason, is more significant than the other dozen violent acts she committed) in order to somehow give her the strength to fight off the demon makes little sense, as does the revelation of the surprise antagonist's motives and Ava's decision to help her friend conjure her own demon for fun. Fun?

I suppose there could be some serious commentary in Ava's Possessions by correlating the demons of addiction to literal demons, but this isn't that type of movie -- although if it were, it would feel like it had more sense of purpose than this scattered final product.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C (A strong but underutilized supporting cast, but Krause and Lou Taylor Pucci are bland and not particularly compelling.)
  • Direction: C (Has a couple of fun, stylish moments, but the horror and humor both generally fall flat.)
  • Script: D+ (Tonally awkward with a nonsensical story full of unbelievable characters.)
  • Gore/Effects: C- (Modest gore; cheap-looking makeup effects.)
  • Overall: C- (The promise of quirky fun is squandered in this confused, overly serious film.)

Ava's Possessions is rated R by the MPAA for language, some sexual content and bloody images.

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