FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 8, 2023

Possession is nine-tenths of this post

If you were to look up "What seeing The Exorcist at a formative age does to a motherfucker" in the dictionary, you might pause a moment to think "Wow, the OED is really just adding anything at all these days, huh?" But you might also see a picture of me there, waving a large foam finger that says "I can't help it, I love possession movies even though they're nearly all terrible, generally very samey-samey, and they likely don't deserve the love I have for them." (Yes, the text on the foam finger is very small.)

It's true! Lately I have had possession movie fever and it's manifesting in all sorts of ways. Why, just the other night, the words POSSESSION MOVIEZ RULE appeared in raised letters on my stomach! Eerie, right? This recent flare-up of feelings was triggered by a few...triggers. To wit:

1) I am (still) playing Diablo IV and there is a cool possession-flavored sidequest chain.

2) Playing Diablo IV has had me in the mood for some Diablo IV-esque horror movies, though I'm not sure any exist that will scratch that particular itch. (Feel free to recommend some if you can!) But! This mood led me to rewatch the 2010 film The Shrine, which I remembered quite enjoying. Turns out, I still quite enjoy it! Sure, the moments of 2010 CGI haven't aged very well (the green screen fog looks very much like...well, green screen fog). Yeah, a lot of the acting is a bit dodgy. I agree, it's another in the long line of movies that think the thing we really enjoyed about The Blair Witch Project was seeing a "bossy" woman get what was coming to her because she was so bossy!!! And yes, The Shrine literally wraps up with a limp "Oh that? It's a curse" excuse for a resolution. 

But you know what? It matters not to moi! While the movie's ideas might be better than the movie itself, I find that I'm so into those ideas that I still dig the movie as a whole. (Does that word salad make any sense?) The Shrine leaves you guessing as to what's actually up with that cult operating out in the Polish countryside, and when you find out, phew! The third act lets loose and it's an over-the top, pretty gory reminder that possession movies can be great, scary fun.

3) Talk to Me is my favorite thing I've seen in a hot minute. (Side note, how absolutely GD delightful it was to go see an Australian horror movie in a thee-ay-tur!) I am loath to go too deep in on it at the moment as it's still pretty new and maybe you haven't checked it out yet and it shouldn't be spoiled. But I will say, I can't remember the last time teenagers--especially horror movie teenagers--were treated with such respect in a film. It's refreshing that they do the dumb, flip shit that teens do, but they are also written as, you know, people. In other words, they don't sound like screenwriters trying to sound like cool teens, talking about their hashtags and apps and vapes and you see why I don't write teen characters! They simply exist. Crazy, right?

Despite all the literal hand-holding in the film, the film does not hold your hand. It doesn't go to great lengths to explain away every little thing, and boy oh boy is it stronger for it. It fills in enough blanks so you don't walk away dissatisfied or confused, but it leaves the wizard behind the curtain trapped behind the curtain. A horror movie that respects its characters and its audience? Crazy, right?

A sequel was just announced today, and in typical A24 style, announced as "coming soon" at that. Now, maybe that sequel will explain everything and tell we would-be Eleanors just whose hands we're holding. That's okay, I suppose, as at least that'd be telling the story as its own story. It's telling the story as a five minute narrative dump squeezed into proceedings that's the clunker idea: It isn't always necessary, and it certainly doesn't always work--and such a sequence would have brought down Talk to Me's property values immensely. It's a sad tale of the lingering effects of unresolved grief, the lonely ache of the desire to fit in, and the myriad ways we unintentionally hurt one another. All this in a teen-centered possession movie? Crazy, right?

Anyway, bring 'em on, I say:

Talk 2 Me

Talk to M3

T4lk to Me

Talk to Me 5 

4) Okay, the biggest  culprit in all of this is also the least likely, and that is the trailer for The Exorcist: Believer

It's possible that in the past you have heard me yell about The Halloween Bangs Trilogy, aka The Lindsey Wallace Saga (2018-2022) (named such because Kyle Richards cut her bangs for her portrayal of the iconique (and gay) Lindsey Wallace because Kyle Richards was com-mit-ted to the role, thank you very much).  I yelled bad things because Lindsey Wallace aside, phew honey I do not like those films (or "films," rather) one single bit! Each installment was worse than the one that preceded it, which is perhaps the most notable thing about the whole shebang. 

So when it was announced that the duo behind The Halloween Bangs Trilogy (David Gordon Green and Danny McBride) would be reuniting and getting their filthy mitts all over another sequel trilogy (sequelilogy), this time to The fucking Exorcist, you can imagine my reaction! If you can't imagine it, I will just tell you that my reaction was "no."

Okay, now imagine my reaction when I watched that trailer and came away from it hyped for the movie! If you can't imagine it, I will just tell you that I was shocked, honey. I was in tears almost.

Of course, I realize that my hype is due in large part to the gas leak in my apartment. It's also due to the fact that the trailer simply recreates some of the best tidbits from the original film and the trailer for the original film, such as the dogs fighting and the stark black and white images. And then there's Maude my feelings about possession movies, the feelings that ignited this whole post. I am simple! Give me a practical FX possessed face with weird yellow or green eyes, crusty cracked skin, and some corn teeth and I'm good! Yeah, I know the person with the weird yellow or green eyes, crusty cracked skin, and corn teeth will probably just toss and turn in bed and cuss a lot before spicing it up with a bit of levitation or elbows and knees bending in all the wrong ways. The Exorcist is almost half a century old: the same old tricks are tired as heck and truth be told, they're not the most interesting aspects of that film anyway.

But lawd I don't care, I love that shit! And I always will, I'm sure, because that is what seeing The Exorcist at a formative age does to a motherfucker. 

Now, what will seeing The Exorcist: Believer at a not-remotely-formative age do to a motherfucker? It rattles me to my core to say it, but say it I must: I can't wait to find out! My foam finger is already on.

Oh hey! FYI, this here post is going to be cross-posted at my new catch-all blog-site-thing Avenue X. I tell you this because you can subscribe over there (it is free) and get whatever I post delivered right to your ol' inbox. Final Girl isn't going away, so you are welcome to not subscribe over there and simply check this site whenever you might fancy. But if you want to be in the know whenever this place updates, that's a way to do it! Cutting edge technology, I tells ya, wow.


Steve K said...

1) I loooooooved Talk to Me. I'm so glad I saw it in the theater.
2) I, too, was skeptical about whole Exorcist thing given the whole Halloween thing, and was very surprised by the feels I got from the trailer.
3) I was a professional lexicographer for 30 years, so I especially enjoyed this entry. A+ dictionary content.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thank you Steve, I always do my best in trying to bring good dictionary content!

I have no doubt that Believer will disappoint me, but also there is a tiny devil on my shoulder telling me that no, the trailer is not fooling me, I will end up really enjoying it. For now, I choose to listen to the devil (with no heed that this will lead me to thrashing around in bed and cussing)

Michelle said...

I went back to the theater last night for a second round of Talk to Me. So good! I might go again (?). Also, thanks for the Maude gag. You could've backspaced it out of existence, but you didn't. * standing ovation *

Steve said...

I felt the same way about the new Halloween movies, but I'm a lot less precious about the Exorcist franchise. I'd only seen the first movie until last year when I watched 3, which I enjoyed. So I'm trying to be open to the new ones.

Rochester Swift said...

Blatty the Believer... made two superior films to this Big Hit, both sequels, no less, The Ninth Configuration and The Excoricst III, which happens to have the Greatest Jump Scare of All Time, IMO. That may be blasphemy to some but IDGAF. Then Freidkin made the most underrated action film of all time, Sorcerer, after The Pea Soup Festival. Color me contrarian, but the Power of Art Compels Me!