Exeter has had quite the storied life in its short existence, and it hasn’t even been released in the United States yet. It started life as Backmask; gaining good buzz in a handful of screenings. Then reports came out of massive re-edits and delays. It began to seem as if Director Marcus Nispel’s latest film would never see the light of day. Then it became Exeter… and then it got a release date. So did the film come out unscathed after spending so much time in production hell?… Mostly, yes.
Horror movies can be tricky little things. As a genre, it has more layers than even the largest of onions. When I review a film, I try to consider which layer (or layers) the filmmaker is trying to impact. Sometimes the intent isn’t necessarily to scare, but to simply share a story of horrific events. Exeter falls more into that category. At it’s core, you could call it a possession flick, but that would certainly be selling it short. Exeter is ripe with young and lively characters that are capable of both laughs and scares. That’s not to say this is a horror/comedy mash-up, because it isn’t. The dialogue is just well written. Well….for the most part. Occasionally a character well let out a “chillax”, or some other slang term that no one could possibly say in the real world with a straight face. That said, Exeter is a youthful film – so it’s not horribly out of place.
The film follows a group of young adults that throw the party of the goddamn century at an old mental hospital for children. As things begin to wind down, they decide it would be fun to hang out and try their luck with the ever-popular “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board”. To their surprise – it works! To their greater surprise – the volunteer-floater is now possessed by an evil spirit.
Exeter is violent and unapologetic. Between the semi-frequent humorous one liners and plot twists, metal music music rings out in the musical composition. It fits the film well, and often adds to the mood of things. But about those plot twists….. There came a time where I was absolutely lost as to where this story was going. Several ideas are set up, and a few of those are even explored in a style reminiscent of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. You know… if they were blitzed on PCP, coke, and liquor. Even if you get lost every once in a while – it doesn’t really detract from the experience. The gore and scenarios should keep you entertained.
I suppose it’s commendable that Exeter came out as good as it did when considering its road through production. I place that success solely on the shoulders of the films cast and director. Sure, the writing was good, but place a rookie cast and less experienced director into Exeter and it becomes a mess real quick. Exeter has its faults… fairly large ones, but I’m willing to forgive almost all of them due to its overall “bad-ass” nature. I had a blast with it, and that’s not something I have said about a possession flick in like….ever.
Maybe next time…cool it with the lens flare though…just sayin.