Starting up where most possession films end, Ava’s Possessions is one of the most mainstream films I’ve ever seen at the Fantasia Film Festival.
Let’s bitch it out…
Writer / director Jordan Galland’s film begins where most films end: with the demon (sorry, spiritual passenger) exorcised and the priest packing up his belongings in the aftermath. In this scenario, however, the journey to recovery has only just begun. Protagonist Ava (a likeable albeit too skinny Louisa Krause) was possessed for 28 days by an entity that caused widespread destruction, slept around, ruined most of her friendships and may have committed murder. In the aftermath of her rampage, Ava is given three options: 1) go to jail 2) go away to a psychiatric facility or 3) go to Spirits Possession Anonymous, a government funded AA-meets-group-therapy organization. Naturally Ava opts for the third choice and the film follows her sometimes comedic, sometimes thriller-esque attempts to unravel not only what she got up during her possession (she has no memories of the possession at all) and try and prevent another attack, which is constantly looming.
Of all of the films I’ve watched at Fantasia, Ava’s Possessions probably has the best commercial prospects with mainstream audiences. To hardcore enthusiasts, this may not be enough to satisfy them, but for those who like their horror with a side of comedy (think Ghostbusters, only less funny) and prefer to gore quotient dialled way down, this is a good option. The film looks decent-for-independent-film (minus some sketchy city skyline tracking shots) and has a relatively straightforward investigative plot. Plus it features a bevy of well-known B/C listers that everyday audiences will enjoy identifying as “hey, that guy”, including Deborah Rush and William Sadler as Ava’s parents, Carol Kane as a kooky magic shop owner, Damages‘ Zachary Booth as Ava’s future brother-in-law and Dan Fogler as her begrudged lawyer.
In truth, though, this is Krause’s show. Ava is in every frame and we follow her diligently as she attempts to piece her life back together. Over time the film loses some of its comedic energy to take on a more serious note as Ava realizes she may be involved in a murder plot. It’s here that the film goes off the rails a little. Sure it allows Orange Is The New Black‘s Alysia Reiner an opportunity to play a disgruntled prostitute with GIANT earrings, but the denouement feels like the film mistakenly decided its red herring plot line was more interesting than its possession plot. In this sense a tighter grip on the narrative and meatier roles for Ava’s family (mostly sidelined in the later parts of the film) and Ava’s kooky support group friend, Hazel (scene stealer Annabelle Dexter-Jones) might have been a better choice.
All in all, though, Ava’s Possession is a fun, amusing film. It’s unusual take on demonic possession makes good use of the premise’s narrative potential and the comedy friendly execution is palatable for fans of light-hearted horror. It has good potential for a decent shelf life on VOD and I expect that’s where audiences will see it in the near future.
The film plays next at the Fantasy FilmFest in Germany Aug 5.