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Blackwater Valley Exorcism
cast: Cameron Daddo, Jeffrey Combs, James Russo, Del Zamora, and Kristen Erickson

director: Ethan Wiley

89 minutes (15) 2006
widescreen ratio 16:9
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 0/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
Ethan Wiley's Blackwater Valley Exorcism is an exercise in pointlessness. The director sucks cocks in hell and the power of ineptitude compels him. There can be no excuse for a film that is this awful. Wiley's devils are too deeply entrenched to waste one's time with trying to budge them. But hang on, isn't that name recognisable? Was this not the director who oversaw House II: The Second Story, a film that was unsuccessful but at least displayed some skill and imagination? Guess Wiley can't lay credit to those touches.

I am not going to deign it with the botheration of a detailed synopsis. Isabelle is possessed by a demon, various people visit, a couple of them die and she is finally rid of the demon. The makers didn't go to the trouble of providing much of a plot so I can't as well supply one. The film claims to have employed a priest, James Spadaman, expert in exorcism rituals to advise on sequences, but when he appears in the 25-minute-long "we made this" that supports the feature, I was unconvinced that Spadaman was a real man of the cloth. To give any hapless renter a visual shortcut to the film technique employed on Blackwater Valley Exorcism, do you remember the soap opera Santa Barbara? How about Californian porno video production? With its badly lit minimalist sets, its zit free and blandly beautiful cast, and its meanderingly nonsensical dialogue you expect Blackwater Valley Exorcism to burst into hardcore action.

The film is timid though, shy of gore and leery of sex. It considers itself risqu� at one point when Isabelle accuses her father of incest. Of course, a UK audience tackling dangerous themes nightly on Sun Hill and Holby won't be impressed. The camera cuts from one to the other as square jaws prattle crapola to one another and you wonder how Jeffrey Combs and James Russo got roped into this milksop clichéd drivel. Combs, frustratingly, gives a performance against type as the sheriff, hard and implacable he is commanding. Possibly the hero, too, until Isabelle reveals knowledge of his appalling behaviour away from the eyes of the public, he is a rapist and his victim a prostitute under arrest. The production could only afford him for a day and a night and they introduce him at the beginning of the film and bring him back briefly for the finale.

Ellory Eddy's script should be more amusing than it is; the lines are farcical, after all. One wonders if he might be old enough to have taken a masterclass from Ed Wood Jr. I can only really leave you with a list of the ludicrous spewings from his typewriter. You want to think that it was intended as comedy but you see the film and the only evidence is that he wrote in all seriousness. His characters are informed. "Doctors have ruled out schizophrenia and that bipolar bullshit!" One compares Isabelle's behaviour to that of those guesting on Oprah, you know, like: "When kids do bad things... it's just a cry for help!" ... "Kids are just like animals... they need a bit of positive reinforcement!"

Then the veterinarian is asked to come to their assistance. "Well, I have some horse tranquillisers." ... "Is it safe for people?" ... "I guess so!" Which leads to the line: "Well, now, I think it's time we gave your daughter a little prick!" (Maybe this was originally a porno script!) Then there is this hard talk between father and padre: "Personally, you'd be the last guy I'd invite to this dance." One for the t-shirts is: "I don't know how to tell you this... but I think we need an exorcism." Soon after: "I knew it... she's possessed." (One for the back of the t-shirt.) More hard talk: "Well, the Vatican can go to hell." Finally, relenting, the father decides to give the church a chance: "Put that white collar to good use and get the devil out of Isabel." That clump of funnies, might make this suddenly adversely attractive, but be foolish not. Leave it where it sits on the shelf and find something else to take home. But what do I know? The title has been sitting on the W.H. Smiths' DVD sale charts for some weeks... the demand must be great. They wouldn't lie to us, would they?

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