20 years ago, Carly’s mother went quiet for days on end. After a period of time, she returned home one day after going on a homicidal rampage murdering over 20 people. She has been locked away ever since with nobody trying to reach out to her. Fast forward to today, and Carly is haunted by vicious nightmares of her mother and the day they found her after the incident. Her friend Martin then tells her the news that he was asked to go to a focus group for a company called Therapol, and there he learned that Carly’s mother is being held – and that she has been stuck in a deep coma for quite some time.
Therapol is an experimental company who have placed Carly’s mother’s brain into a computer generated simulation, and they would like for her to enter her mother’s simulation and make contact with her. She has conflicting thoughts but ultimately gives it a try, only to later learn about her mother’s true identity, what these vicious nightmares are, and what this company is really doing.
It is directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) and filmed during the Covid lockdowns. After going into huge sci-fi territory in his career, it was nice to see him turn to horror with a smaller budget. It’s obviously a demonic possession movie, and there’s no surprise there due to the title, but Neil is much more interested in trying to explain WHY these things are happening rather than just focusing on WHAT is happening. It creates a direction that still feels somewhat fresh in a subgenre that’s been bogged down heavy in the last decade or so.
By creating a character’s avatar and sending them into this cursed dimensional reality, he is able to play with the idea of scientific progression against the idea of crippling, ancient forces that transcend understanding. The demon knows what makes Carly panic and is constantly putting her friends in jeopardy, attacking within dreams within dreams, and even finding ways to affect her directly in the simulation.
If you are not a fan of possession films, I don’t think this has enough otherness to attract you. If you do like those films however, I think this has enough freshness to hold over most fans. The demon’s appearance is genuinely scary, the atmosphere is oppressive and tense, the acting is very suitable and appropriate, and there are a few twists along the way that may not be huge surprises, but they do serve the story well and keep it interesting.
It’s a movie I was excited for last summer when it was joining conversation, but a lot of negative criticism and a quiet mostly-direct-to-video drop kept this movie mostly out of the zeitgeist and right into the $9 bin at Walmart. I’d say that it’s definitely worth a watch if you are into this kind of thing, but don’t expect a reinvention of the genre by any means.
‘Til Next Time,
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