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the-atticus-institute-2015

The US Army attempt to weaponise a demon-possession via a battery of tests and torture techniques in this stupid, stupid, stupid mockumentary.

The mockumentary takes the form of archive footage and interviews with former employees of the institute, as they obliquely allude, in the most melodramatic way imaginable, to every single thing that happens, before we see it happen, in the ridiculous archive footage. “She knew so much. Too much.” And queue melodramatic pause as the actor stares pointedly into the middle distance. “Nothing could prepare us for what happened next.” Utters another actor, staring gravely into the camera.

And there I agree. Little could prepare us for the things that happen in this movie because the majority of them are STUPID. Look at the premise if you are in any doubt as to how ridiculous this film is:

THE US MILITARY ARE WEAPONISING A DEMON POSSESSION. 

 

I like the structuring. The interviews and the footage could have been a really interesting way to tell the story. But every time this technique is used in a horror movie – it turns into a mess. The acting is mediocre. The script is HORRIBLE. The pacing is off. There are no scares at all. It’s all just silly. The majority of the action involves a woman grunting and barking while secured to a chair. Sometimes she stares and smirks malevolently at members of the team. Meanwhile the military continue to throw tests at her and as the tests increase in ferocity, the audience increasingly sympathises with the demon.

There is no one in this movie, not one character that we can sympathise with. I think some attempt is made to secure our affection for the lead scientist – but this fails. Who cares? The scientists and the military have absolutely no concern for the woman who has been possessed, they don’t care what happens to her – they are interested in making a breakthrough. The scientists want to make a name for themselves and the soldiers want a weapon.

The tone is also all over the place. Attempting, simultaneously, to build tension and apprehension through the interviews, but then ruining that through the awful video footage of stupid people running around and screaming.

Also – am I the only one who’s getting really sick of ‘scientific paranormal investigations’ from the 1970s forming the premise for so many horror movies at the moment? I blame The Conjuring and this obsession with Ed & Lorraine Warren. It seems that movie going audiences are about 40 years behind academia when it comes to the ‘paranormal’ because ‘scientists’ have been confident that there is no basis to all this paranormal bullshit since flares went out of fashion. The first time.

There’s something about bad science (and bad history) in horror films that really pushes my buttons. It’s so lazy. I’m not sure if it’s because it is insulting to the audience – or because so many people just accept this crap. Perhaps I just have standards.

In any case, I am floored and disgusted that yet again, an appalling, lazy horror movie has got a fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. I have a theory for why this happens. Reviewers have started rating movies according to genre. Meaning that a horror movie has certain aspirations and should not be held to the same standards as, say, a period drama or a satirical comedy.

While there is something to be said for applying this method to film reviews, the key word there is STANDARDS. People just expect horror films to have low standards. And this one does. As usual – there were some good ideas in here but they are lost amidst the lazy film making. This is a two star movie, at best. Try harder.

And the exploding frog was hilarious. Not scary.

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