Take a look at this DVD cover.
Do you have any idea how excited I was when I found this? You you you oughta know...by now that I love possession movies, no matter how bad they are, so any take on The Exorcist is going to tickle me pea soup green. Thus, it is no surprise I was all "Yo Dorothy, c'mere, girl. Evil chose you, and so do I!"
It wasn't long into the film when I realized that Dorothy Mills is 99 things, but 'a contemporary take on The Exorcist' ain't one. And I don't even know what that "evil chose her" shit is all about, either. That's right, folks...I have been misled. Misled! This is a marketing misstep that brings to mind William Friedkin's Bug, which was shoved into a genre it didn't fit. I get it, you know, why it's done. A film comes along and the PR department gets flustered, tut-tutting as they try to categorize it. What do you do with a Bug? Is it a drama? It won't play with the drama crowd. Is it horror? Mmm, not really. Well, not within the narrow paradigm that "horror movie" tends to bring to mind...but hey, it's close enough! And it's from William "Exorcist" Friedkin, so screw it! Yes, folks will be angry when they find out they've been duped, but what does it matter? By that time, they've already parted with their money. As for the movie's future...long run, shmong run.
And so goes my relationship with Dorothy Mills. I picked it up largely based on that Exorcist reference. I didn't read reviews beforehand because I wanted to remain unspoiled...I wanted to find something new and have the experience in a sort of good ol' days-style information vacuum. I guess you could say it was my fault that this film didn't meet my expectations, except that I arrived at my expectations from the GD marketing. How very frustrating!
It's even more frustrating when you realize that misleading box art does a disservice to a fine film that doesn't need whatever cachet the Exorcist name might lend to it. If anything, it's more akin to, say, The Wicker Man or Dead and Buried and it likely would find as much of an audience among the horror crowd if those films were referenced on the cover. I still would have checked it out! I love an outsider ends up in an insular and quietly hostile community that harbors some bad secrets movies almost as I love possession movies! Just be what you are, Dorothy Mills, and we will give you a chance.
The "outsider" here is Jane van Dopp (Carice van Houten), a psychiatrist who heads to an isolated island community off mainland Ireland to examine and assess troubled young teen Dorothy Mills (Jenn Murray), who was found physically abusing an infant under her care. Locals are both friendly and unfriendly, but none of them want Jane digging too deep. The sooner she heads back to the mainland the better, but what of Dorothy's fate? Will she end up in jail because of the assault? Or is there more going on than is immediately apparent?
Of course there is, what the heck did you think?
Listen, I'm not giving away the rest of the haps with this flick because it should be seen in a good ol' days-style information vacuum. Suffice it to say that while many parts of the film will be familiar to horror fans, it's original enough to satisfy. Really, though, I'll highly recommend it based on Jenn Murray's performance alone. Dorothy's got a lot of demons to battle- none of them Pazuzu, mind- and Murray's range is astonishing.
So look, take a chance on this little gem from writer/director Agnes Merlet. Just, uh, know what kind of gem you're getting.