So…. I, FRANKENSTEIN. What can you say? Is it a bad movie or a bad videogame? We report; you decide! Dan Persons and Steve Biodrowski analyze this patchwork of plot elements that is every bit as much a stitched-together abomination as the titular monster, played by Aaron Eckhart. Stuart Beattie (COLLATERAL) wrote and directed, from a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, the man also responsible for the UNDERWORLD franchise, but UNDERWORLD-like box office success is eluding this effort.
Have you heard about this new videogame called I, FRANKENSTEIN? If not, don’t blame yourself; the commercials and posters probably left you thinking that I, FRANKENSTEIN is a feature film. They even hired a few movie actors to make it seem more like a – well, like a movie, and adding to the confusion the demo version is currently playing in theatres, so you can check it out and decide whether it’s a game you’d like to play. Unfortunately, the answer is: No.
Now I know what you’re saying: How could a videogame with Frankenstein’s Monster caught up in a war between angels and demons not be super-exciting? I mean, at the very least, there must be some cool graphics and battle scenes, and stuff like that, right? Well, yeah, the computer graphics are great – almost like a movie – but the game itself is surprisingly dull, for reasons I’ll get into shortly.
First, here’s what you need to know about the game’s story: You play Frankenstein’s Monster, an immortal artificial man with superpowers. You get caught up in a war between Good and Evil over the fate of mankind. You don’t really care much about mankind, because mankind hates you because you’re ugly, but eventually this hot, blonde doctor chick puts a bandage on one of your wounds and so you fall in love and decide humanity’s okay after all and take up sides against Evil.
I should pause here and mention that Aaron Eckhart (who was really good in THE DARK KNIGHT) reads the lines for the Frankenstein Monster. His presence is supposed to make this feel more like a real movie than a videogame, but you can sort of tell he knows he’s just filling time in between the action game-play which is the real reason someone might buy a game like I, FRANKENSTEIN. I suppose if they made a real movie out of this game, with him in the role, he’d probably do a much better job.
Anyway, acting aside, I had a really problem with Frankenstein’s Monster as an avatar, because when you play a videogame, you want your in-game character to be the most kick-ass warrior around like Lara Croft in TOMB RAIDER, or Alice in RESIDENT EVIL, or even John Grimm in DOOM, but Frankenstein just didn’t seem all that powerful in this battle between Good and Evil. I mean, yeah, he’s superhuman – which is good in a videogame – but does being artificially created really make you strong enough to battle angels and demons?
I was thinking maybe the idea would be that the opposing forces were so evenly matched that the monster would be able to tip the balance one way or the other, but instead it turns out to be that Team Evil just needs to study the Monster to learn something that will help them; meanwhile, Team Good doesn’t want the Monster to fall into the hands of Team Evil.
So your game avatar is really a pawn in what should be his own game instead of being the hero driving the acting. And it even turns out that Team Evil doesn’t even really need the Monster; all they need is the journal telling how the Monster was created, so the Frankenstein Monster avatar is that much less important to the game’s outcome.
At least, being superhuman, the Monster can fight, but though the action is nicely rendered, the fight scenes just don’t look that challenging to a potential player. Basically, any weapon with the game’s peculiar religious symbol carved on it will kill a demon, so all you have to do is pick up any weapon and hit a demon with it. That’s all there is to it. Not much strategy or skill involved. In fact, you wonder why Frankenstein’s monster need to be superhuman to do that. Anybody could hit a demon with a stick with a symbol on it. Or if the demons were too fast for that, why not carve the symbol on some machine gun bullets and just fire away?
So, uninteresting avatar and unchallenging fight scenes – at least the game might survive on the strength of its visuals, right? Because the fights are so easy to win, you should be able to quickly breeze through lots of cool settings with great-looking backgrounds and soak up all that wonderful atmosphere, shouldn’t you? Sadly, no.
Probably the biggest problem with I, FRANKENSTEIN is the way the “story” keeps interrupting the action and slowing down your progress from scene to scene. Once upon a time, you just killed something and then moved to the next level, where you could at least enjoy the graphics even if the game was not too exciting; now, however, videogames pretend there’s a story that ties all the death battles together, even though it’s pretty obvious that the story doesn’t really matter.
I’m not saying there’s shouldn’t be a story, but it needs to fit a little more smoothly into the game. Here, it just bogs the game down, constantly – in fact right from the beginning, when we get this prologue which acts like one big exposition dump telling us how “Adam” (as he is eventually named) was created by Victor Frankenstein – as if we didn’t already know that. In fact, I’m betting a big part of the reason they named the film I, FRANKENSTEIN is because they know we all know who Frankenstein is.
And that’s not all: the prologue also tells us way more than we need to know about the war between angels and demons. I mean, we get it: angels=good; demons=bad. About the only thing “new” here is that the angels call themselves gargoyles because they camouflage themselves as gargoyles, but I could have figured that part out for myself.
Unfortunately, figuring things out for yourself is not something I, FRANKENSTEIN ever lets you do. As boring as the prologue is, I took it in stride, because that’s the way these games start now, with the little introductory clip before the real game begins; sure, the absence of a “Skip” button was frustrating, but I figured a few minutes of tedium is par for the course before you get to the good stuff. Boy, was I wrong! Once you get into the actual game-play, the game keeps stopping to explain everything – and I mean everything. There’s never a moment when you wonder what to do next, because the character dialogue spells out what, where, and why before you start each new level.
This would be bad enough if I, FRANKENSTIEN were a non-linear game with multiple paths you could follow; however, the progression is strictly linear, with no two ways about it, so there’s really no need for explanations to justify “decisions” that are predetermined for you by the game. It’s as if they game designers realized their actual story was too flimsy to hold your attention from one level to the next, and so they tried to cover it up by giving you step-by-step explanations why you had to go on to the next scene and defeat the next demon or whatever.
Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t know why things happen, but part of the fun of a good game is strategy – weighing options and deciding what the next move should be. Here, it’s all laid out for you, and it left me wondering whether the designers even know who their target customers were. The fight scenes and computer graphics make I, FRANKENSTEIN look a cool game for teenage boys, but the constant hints and suggestions about what to do next make I, FRANKENSTEIN feel more like a lame Interactive Hidden Object Game for ten-year-olds. You know the kind: you can’t “lose,” because the game always tells you what to do next. (“Congratulations! You have found Frankenstein’s journal! You can use it to revive your fallen demon hordes and route the angelic gargoyle army!”)
What this means is that I, FRANKENSTEIN is predictable from beginning to end. Not just the usual predictability, where you know you’re going to win if you pay attention and play well – but scene-by-scene predictability, where you know what to do to complete each level even before you start playing that level. Watching the I, FRANKENSTEIN demo in theatres the other day, I ended up feeling like I was watching someone else play a videogame – someone not very talented. At first I wanted to take the controls for myself and show him how it was done, but after seeing how easy it all was, I just lost interest.
Sure, there would be a little more suspense with my fingers pushing the buttons to make Adam swing his club and whack his demon adversaries, but that’s not enough to make a satisfying game experience. I want some challenges, some puzzles, and adversaries whose weaknesses need to be discovered and exploited. To be fair, there is just a tiny bit of that in the end, when Adam comes up against the “boss” demon (named Naberius and played by Bill Nighy – another actor whose presence makes I, FRANKENSTEIN seem almost like a real movie). For some reason never explained (which is weird when you consider who much trivial stuff is explained) Naberius cannot be killed by weapons with the weird religious symbol carved on them.
If you plan on playing I, FRANKENSTEIN yourself, I recommend you watch the demo version on you X-Box at home and stop at this point before it gives away the solution for killing Naberius, which is just about the only halfway decent surprise in the whole game. As for me, as I said, I saw the demo in a theatre, and it totally gave away the solution for killing Naberius, which instantly killed any interest I had in ever adding this game to my collection.
The I, FRANKENSTEIN demo was show in 3D at my theatre, which did add a little bit to the game. I liked seeing wide-angle shots of the ancient cathedral (where the gargoyle order resides), which was surrounded by modern buildings, while demons swarmed the cobblestone streets for the final battle. But the 3D technology has its problems, especially when the game pretends to be a movie. If they had just done the whole thing with computer-generated imagery, it probably would have looked okay, but when they mix the real actors with the computer stuff, it doesn’t always line up properly – and in 3D, the alignment problems are more obvious. Like, there’s a scene where this character shifts from human form to his true demonic appearance, and his head is too big, kind of like a balloon – or more like that joke they do on THE TONIGHT SHOW, where they paste Jay Leno’s face on the body of some guy streaking through a football scene. Except the scene in I, FRANKENSTEIN is much funnier.
The last thing I will mention is that the actress who played Hannah McKay on the last couple seasons of DEXTER shows up as the doctor who sorta falls in love with “Adam.” Which is kind of funny, because on the TV show she fell in love with a serial killer who she thought might kill her because he had killed lots of other people, and now she falls in love with a monster who she thinks might kill her because he killed Victor Frankenstein’s bride Elizabeth in that long boring prologue I mentioned above. But of course her blonde hair and good looks provide an invulnerability shield that guarantees she will survive through the closing credits.
Which, come to think of it, are the best thing about I, FRANKENSTEIN: at least there’s no post-credits teaser promising us a follow-up to a game no one wants to play in the first place.
On the CFQ Scale of 0-5 Stars: avoid! I, FRANKENSTEIN (January 24, 2014). A Lakeshore Entertainment production, distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment. 93 minutes. PG-13. In 3D. Directed by Stuart Beattie. Screenplay by Stuart Beattie, based on a screen story by Beatie and Kevin Grevioux, based on the graphic novel by Grevioux, inspired by the character created by Mary Shelly. Cast: Aaron Eckhart as Adam; Yvonne Strahovski as Terra; Miranda Otto as Leonore; Bill Nighy as Naberius; Jai Courtney as Gideon; Socratis Otto as Zuriel; Aden Young as Victor Fraknenstein.
This video tour of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood showcases the bloody mayhem of two walk-through attractions inspired by recent horror films: Evil Dead: Book of the Dead and the eerie shudders of Insidious: Into the Further.
Even if you did not care for the films themselves, you may get a kick out of the walk-through versions. Universal Studios’s annual Halloween attraction is known for meticulously recreating sets, scenes, and characters from the films, and the live aspect allows for an in-your-face approach you simply cannot get on the big screen. Thrill to the ghostly apparition appearing from behind a mirror! Shiver at the sound of chainsaws! Gag at the geysers of blood!
An extended “Unrated Edition” and a single bonus feature (30 minutes of “Recovered Files”) do little to enhance a sequel that seems to have given up the ghost.
When PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 appeared in theatres last year, it suggested that the franchise’s modus operandi had shifted from formula to template: whereas a formula allows for varying the ingredients, a template completely pre-defines the form and structure, allowing only for minor variations in the text being slotted in. The spooks were back, with new victims reprising the basic story line of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2; despite further hints of a cult worshiping the demon responsible for the hauntings depicted in the films, little new emerged, leaving less-forgiving viewers frustrated. The release of an unrated, extended edition of the film – first on VOD, then two weeks later on DVD and Blu-ray – conjured a glimmer of hope that additional scenes might fill out the story and bring PARANORMAL ACTIVITY a step closer to standing on its own rather than merely reprising the same old routines. Alas, that hope was exorcised by the simple expedient of watching the longer version.
Although the Blu-ray disc promises over 30 additional minutes, only nine of those minutes found their way into the unrated edition; the remaining footage is included as the disc’s only bonus feature, under the title “The Recovered Files.” The relative significance – or lack thereof – in the restored material will leave you wondering why certain scenes were deemed worthy of being included in the new cut while others were dumped into the bonus feature. None of these scenes enhance the film much, but the cumulative impact provides a hint into the filmmakers’ method, which apparently consisted of shooting endless variation on the same theme, then whittling it all down in the editing room.
The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 Blu-ray disc offers English, French Spanish, and Portuguese language tracks in 5.1 surround sound. The English track is DTS; the others are Dolby. There is also an English Description audio track for those who are visually impaired.
There are subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The film is broken up into 15 chapter stops; however, there is no way to access them from the main menu, which offers you options to play either the theatrical cut of the extended version; selecting either options starts the movie, without offering you a scene selection.
The only bonus feature is Recovered Files.
UNRATED EXTENDED EDITION
Clocking in at 1:37, the extended cut of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 runs approximately nine minutes longer than the theatrical version’s 88 minutes. The actual amount of restored footage probably comes closer to ten minutes; the nine-minute difference in running time is partly due to the deletion of the confusing post-credits teaser that appeared in theatres (a lead-in to a planned spin-off series, to be set in the Latino community). The unrated version begin interestingly, with a a few brief scenes related to Halloween: Alex taking Wyatt trick-or-treating; Alex’s mother decorating cookies; Ben dressed in cowboy costume and sitting on alone in the living room, talking to Alex’s cat; Alex in her flimsy fairy costume (Dad jokes about where the rest of the costume is); and Alex and Ben out together at night, catching a glimpse of Alex’s spooky new neighbor Robbie, who will be the cause of so much trouble later. The sequence adds little to the story, but it establishes a mood of fun and safe scares that will gradually be usurped by the horrors that follow.
After the exterior scene in the park (minus the title card noting the date and location: Henderson, Nevada; November 11, 2011), with which the theatrical version opened, there is an unnecessary bit with a character named Jake showing his “palate expander” (a dental device) to Alex and Ben. The scene seems to be establishing Jake as a friend who will share the adventures to follow, but we never see him again (unless you catch a glimpse of him in the background of the sleepover party that takes place later).
The remaining additions are as follows:
Alex’s brother Wyatt and the spooky neighbor kid Robbie watch a brief online video that scares Wyatt but not Robbie (who obviously has a higher tolerance for horror).
Alex wanders around the house, glimpses Robbie (who mysteriously disappears), then suffers a false scare when a door suddenly opens, revealing Mom.
A bit of Wyatt wandering from his bed in the middle of the night is intercut with Alex awakening as if sensing something is wrong. Alex goes downstairs to the living room, where a book mysteriously falls off a shelf twice, and she puts it back (foreshadowing a similar event that will befall her mother later in the picture).
The new scenes provide a few more moments of the patented PARANORMAL ACTIVITY spookiness, but none of them add much of anything that was not already in the film. The inclusion of the book-falling scene is redundant, since almost the exact same action is repeated later in the film.
THE RECOVERED FILES
The confusion does not end there, however. Moving onto “The Recovered Files,” we see scenes that connect to the restored footage or attempt to fill some of the plot holes in the theatrical version of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4. Why were these scenes left out? Many of them are redundant, but no more so than those that were restored. Though most of the lost files simply offer more of the same, one or two of the scens might actually have improved the film, if only slightly.
The first recovered file is fairly typical of what will follow: an additional comic interaction between Alex and Ben, punctuated by a small scare; in this case, they hear a sound in the backyard.
When the motion-sensitive lights go on outside, Alex sees Robbie creeping around her driveway.
Alex does her geometry homework. Her door mysteriously closes behind her.
Alex, Ben, and their friends play a length game of hide-and-seek inside the house while Alex’s parents are away. Predictably, the scene is loaded with fake scares of the spring-loaded-cat variety; it ends with the friends finding the front door open while the chandelier swings overhead. Jake, the character introduced and then forgotten in the Extended Edition of the film, is featured prominently here.
Ben films Alex playing guitar while an electric fan blows her air, creating a music video effect.
An additional video chat with Alex; after a fade out and fade in, we see Robbie enter (as seen in the film)
Ben films Wyatt and Robbie playing in the sand.
While Alex sleeps, the bedroom door opens, revealing Robbie’s silhouette.
Alex shows the surveillance videos to her mother and asks when Robbie will be leaving.
After the chandelier crash seen in the film, Alex argues with her parents, insisting that something strange is going on.
At night, a toy falls on Wyatt’s bed.
Ben plays Foosballwith Robbie and Wyatt.
In a brief comic scene, the kids play on a slip-in-slide.
Dad comes down stairs to sleep on the couch. A shadow appears, which turns out to be the malevolent Katie.
Mom gives sedatives to Alex, to calm down her fears.
Mom and Dad argue about Alex’s fears. Dad almost seems to believe them, or at least think they should not be dismissed.
At breakfast, Wyatt calls himself Hunter (indicating his falling under Robbie’s influence). Mom and Dad shut him up.
Mom and Dad talk about Alex again. Dad does not believe his daughter is crazy.
The two most significant scenes are the ones in which Alex’s mother and father discuss their daughter’s growing fears about Robbie and possible supernatural phenomena. One of the major flaws with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 is that the parents seem absolutely clueless, despite the video evidence that Ben and Alex are gathering. In these two scenes, we see that Alex’s parents are not completely oblivious to the situation; including them would have filled one small plot hole. (Of course, the parents still don’t actually do anything about Alex’s concerns, so including these scenes would only half-fix the problem.)
The Blu-ray disc of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 presents the film with good image and sound, along with additional footage that could please fans who want more than what they got in theatres. However, none of the additional scenes do much to improve a sequel that merely resurrects the same old ghosts. Note: The unrated version of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (minus “The Recovered Files”) is also available on DVD and on Instant Video. You can purchase the disc here or watch the film instantly here.
Sitting down to write a review of THE LAST EXORCISM PART II, I find myself somewhat in the position of the modern satirist, who finds the real world has become so ridiculous that there is little room to push the envelope even further for comic effect, rendering the concept of satire almost redundant. In my case, reviewing THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is virtually redundant because you, dear reader, have already viewed it. Oh, you may not have paid for a ticket yet, but believe me, you have seen it all – in other, earlier – though not necessarily better – movies. But then, this is hardly surprising. After all, if the previous film offered the last exorcism – the end of the line, done, finished, all over and used up – then we have only ourselves to blame for expecting anything new in PART II.
What is mildly interesting is that what we have seen before is not necessarily from THE LAST EXORCISM. In fact, PART II makes a laudable attempt to distance itself from its predecessor, using the previous film’s plot only as a back story and abandoning the pseudo-documentary stylings in favor of a more conventional approach that focuses on the soul survivor of the confusing conflagration that consumed the characters at the conclusion of Part 1.
This time out, Nell (Ashley Bell) is the central character, attempting to recover from her traumatic past while evading evil forces that may be pursuing her or may exist only in her mind. (One guess: which turns out to be correct?) Bell provides an award-worthy performance as a lost and fragile soul, struggling to come to grips with unpleasant memories and to find a place for herself in a modern world that makes her feel like a stranger in a strange land (after years couped up in the creepy cabin of the first film).
The inevitable problem with this scenario is that generic demands trump satisfying drama. No matter how much the opening scenes engage our sympathy, it is all for naught – simply a set up for the sturm and drang to come, during which THE LAST EXORCISM PART II jettisons everything that worked in order to parade a few well-worn shocks across the screen like has-beens on a decrepit vaudeville stage, before proceeding to the sadly predictable finale.
I say “predictable,” because (as I indicated above) you have seen it before, along with almost everything else in the film – and almost all within the past couple months. Seriously, if you have watched more than a few horror movies this year, you have seen THE LAST EXORCISM PART II, almost from beginning to end. Don’t believe me? Well, read on… WARNING: Major spoilers abound.
We start with a reasonably well-staged set-piece of a couple alarmed by an unexpected intrusion, which turns out to be a feral-looking child, hunched on all fours atop a shelf (MAMA).
The child – well, young woman – turns out to be orphaned, or at least abandoned, with a supernatural force pursuing her and protecting her (also MAMA).
There is a spooky cult, seen at the end of the previous film, that wants to drag her back into the fold (essentially PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 – which was last year, but still…).
We know our girl is being targeted by evil forces because she levitates above her bed (also PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4).
Also, a flock of birds go kamikaze on the windows of a building she is in (apparently having flapped over from DARK SKIES).
The dilemma, it turns out, is that the young woman must decide whether to renounce the darkness or join forces with it (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES).
Helping her in this effort is a sympathetic black female supporting character, who can offer a little non-Christian spiritual support because this is the South, where they have all the voodoo stuff (also BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and come to think of it, kinda sort THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA).
In the end, the exorcism proves ineffective (THE LAST EXORCISM), and the invading entity gains purchase within the body of an innocent victim (INSIDIOUS).
If you don’t mind re-watching a virtual montage of other horror movies, THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is interesting for a while, although its slow build-up is more “slow” than “build-up.” The spook scenes more or less sustain themselves in the first half, when the filmmakers keep to relatively believable phenomena that could be explained away as dreams, hallucinations, or coincidence. But the urge to supply a fright-filled finale pushes the film beyond its ability to sustain credibility (a roomful of levitating knifes seems lifted from an Italian EXORCIST rip-off, circa 1979.)
It is almost an article of faith among contemporary horror films that Evil is all powerful and unstoppable, so much so that resistance is futile; the characters might as well give up and resign themselves to their fate before the film even starts, saving us the trouble of wasting our time to see them reach their inevitable end. Back in the 1970s, this sort of cynicism made some kind of sense in the context of the disillusionment engendered by Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the threat of mutually assured nuclear annihilation; today, it merely seems arbitrary.
I suppose that, if one were in a sympathetic frame of mind, one could find an argument to justify THE LAST EXORCISM PART II’s final turn of events, which offer just a hint of rebellious joyful anarchy – bordering on self-righteous glee – which results from overthrowing one’s oppressors. Somewhat miraculously, Ashley Bell engages our sympathy almost strongly enough to make us vicariously endorse this conclusion (somewhat in the manner that we root for Carrie White’s prom-night revenge).
Unfortunately, the scenario is too contrived to support this reading credibly. Everyone is suspect – possibly part of the evil conspiracy, as evidenced by an unnerving trip to a church, where a chaplain offers not so soothing spiritual comfort in dialogue carefully calibrated to obscure whether he is talking about God or demonic Abalam, who wants to find a home in Nell’s body. Furthermore, the alleged representatives of the Power of Good (called the “right-hand path”) are too closely akin to the incompetent Jedi from STAR WARS, EPISODE III: THE REVENGE OF THE SITH, who seemed to almost deliberately drive Anakin to join the Dark Side of the Force. Poor double-crossed Nell – we are led to believe – has no choice but to accept Abalam, because everyone else is so afraid of what will happen if she accepts Abalam.
Except, you know, her would-be boyfriend, whom Abalam forces to commit suicide (nice, effective way to earn your potential victim’s sympathy and convince her to submit willingly!). And her sympathetic therapist. There’s also the nagging problem that Abalam, we are told, is weak without Nell as a vessel for his power – until the script needs him to be so powerful that he cannot be exorcised,* scaring the Right-Hand Path into attempting to kill Nell in order to prevent Abalam from entering her and fulfilling an apocalyptic prophecy.
Is it any wonder the poor girl goes a little bit off the rails at the end? I mean, who wouldn’t – the script (if not the devil) made her do it. Too bad the switch from victim to victimizer feels like a half-hearted afterthought, targeting a handful of (mostly off-screen) victims. Instead of a cathartic explosion of apocalypstic proportions, we get a joy ride, a few computer-generated flames, and some rock-and-roll on the soundtrack.
This, it seems, is how the world ends – not with a bang but with a music video.
[rating=2] THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (March 1, 2013). CBS Films, 88 minutes, rated R. Written by Damien Chazell and Ed Gass-Donelley. Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly. Cast: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen, Tarra Riggs, Louis Herthum, Muse Watson, Erica Michelle, Sharice A. Williams, Boyana Balta, Joe Chrest. FOOTNOTE:
Yes, there is an exorcism in THE LAST EXORCISM PART II. Which means that THE LAST EXORCISM did not, in fact, feature the “last exorcism.”
VIZ Media has announced that it will serve as an official distribution partner for Aniplex of America’s domestic debut of the BLUE EXORCIST anime series. VIZ Media will carry the new action series (subtitled) on its VIZAnime website beginning Wednesday, April 20th, just days after its eagerly anticipated debut on Japanese TV on April 17th. New episodes will stream on the site every Wednesday.
In the animated series, Rin, along with his twin brother Yukio Okumura are raised by an eminent priest, Shiro Fujimoto, but one day Rin discovers that their biological father is actually Satan! As the border between “Assiah” (the human world) and “Gehenna” (demon’s world) is intruded upon by evils, Rin vows to become the ultimate exorcist to defeat his own father, Satan. To hone his raw skills, Rin enters True Cross Academy to train with other exorcist candidates. Can Rin fight the demons and keep his infernal bloodline a secret? It won’t be easy, especially when drawing his father’s sword releases the demonic power within him!
VIZ Media is the official North American publisher of the BLUE EXORCIST manga (graphic novel) series, created Kazue Kato. Volume 1 is on sale now and is published under the company’s Shonen Jump Advanced imprint. BLUE EXORCIST is rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens and carries an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.
BLUE EXORCIST Volume 1 will also available on April 11th as part of VIZ Media’s expansive digital manga library available exclusively for the VIZ MANGA APP for the Apple® iPad™ mobile device. For more information on the VIZ MANGA APP, please visit www.VIZ.com/apps/.
Manga creator, writer and illustrator Kazue Kato won the prestigious Tezuka Award when she was only 19 for her work, Rabbit And I, published in Japan in Akamaru Jump magazine. Her latest manga series, BLUE EXORCIST, debuted in Jump Square magazine in April of 2009.
Talking to GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGENCE co-director Brian Taylor (CRANK) Movieline.com reports the following intriuging information.
“We basically completely re-envisioned the whole start of the character, and actually had to re-engineer the origin of the Ghost Rider. The whole mythology behind the Ghost Rider that existed in the comic books never really made sense to me, so we sort of had to re-engineer the entire back-story of the Ghost Rider into something new.
We’re just looking at it as an evolution. The movie takes place years later. We’re not disowning the first movie but this Ghost Rider is an evolved form of the previous Ghost Rider. And the mythology that went behind it is stuff that never got delved into in the first movie, anyway.
Like, they don’t talk about who the demon is from when Johnny Blaze becomes the Ghost Rider. We get into that and really get into who that guy is, what his story is, and what makes GR the way that he is. “
Well, it certainly sound different from the first film. Whether the changes will work for comic book fans and help make for a good supernatural-action movie remains to be seen.
Previous reports have mentioned that Nicolas Cage will also be playing the demon Zarathos that Brian Taylor spoke about above, and that an exorcism may take place. In the comics, Johnny Blaze and Zarathos were eventually split, freeing him from the curse of the Ghost Rider—for a time, anyway.
FilmDistrict releases this supernatural shocker the vein of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, about a family battling demonic forces intent on whisking their comatose child into another dimension (dubbed “The Dark Realm”). That Oren Pelli (writer-director of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY) is on board as a producer should be no surprise, considering the spooky tone of the trailer; what is surprising is the presence of writer of Leigh Whannell and director James Wan – the godfathers of torture porn, having launched the genre with SAW (2004) – who apparently have forsaken gory mayhem for a subtler brand of shocks. Patrick WIlson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey head the cast.
Last night I attended one of the nationwide Fathom screenings of THE EXORCIST (1973), featuring the new documentary TO HELL AND BACK, which charts the making of the classic horror film. Never having attended a Fathom event before (it’s a bit like watching television in a theatre, with digital image projected on select screens around the country), I am pleased to report that the picture quality was very impressive: with colors that were sharp and clear, the film looked as good as it ever has. It is also reassuring to note that not too much digital restoration has been performed: the photography retains the slightly grainy 1970s look that lends a documentary atmosphere to the proceedings. Assuming that the upcoming Blu-ray disc and iTunes download (which become available on Tuesday, October 5) are transferred from the same source, this bodes very well: THE EXORCIST has been preserved, not cosmetically embalmed.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the documentary TO HELL AND BACK. Not that I expected it to be bad, but after decades of reading about THE EXORCIST, I doubted there was much new to learn – especially after the wonderful behind-the-scenes features on the 25th anniversary DVD. However, TO HELL AND BACK has a devilishly good ace up its sleeve: besides interviews with producer William Peter Blatty, director William Friedkin, actress Linda Blair, and cinematographer Owen Roizman, the documentary includes never-before-seen screen tests and behind-the-scenes footage shot by Roizman on the set, depicting how many of the effects were done (the projectile vomiting – a brief startling shock in the film itself – goes on for what seems like minutes during rehearsals). Again, the presence of this short but insightful featurette bodes well for the home video release; though I already own two versions on DVD (the 1973 original and the 2000 “Version You’ve Never Seen”), I am seriously considering triple-dipping on this one.
All that, however, is secondary to the experience of revisiting THE EXORCIST on the big screen, along with an appreciative audience. In a way, the screening was something of a personal achievement for me: it was the first time I was able to sit through the film without becoming seriously disturbed. (For the record, I almost achieved this in 2000, but then the new footage – i.e., the Spider Walk – showed up, and my nerve faltered once again.)
I suspect that modern audiences will wonder what all the screaming was about; is this really the film that allegedly made people pass out and/or throw-up? But as William Friedkin told me, people who go just to get off on the effects, don’t. THE EXORCIST works because it takes a serious approach, asking you to buy into the possibility of possession – and, by extension – the existence of God and the Devil – on a deep, dramatic level.
Now that that shocks have worn off after all the years, it is pleasantly ironic (for those of us who were there when the film made its debut) to note how subtle THE EXORCIST is, in many ways. There are long stretches when little happens, except for the recurring sound of rustling in the attic. Big chunks of screen time are occupied with the personal lives of the characters, such as Father Damien Karras’s trip to see his mother in New York. Much of the horror derives not from demonic possession but from the medical science used in a vain attempt to locate the etiology of Regan’s illness.
I also remain impressed with the way the William Friedkin managed to avoid going archetypal while depicting THE EXORCIST’s battle between Good and Evil. There is a fine review of Moby Dick – written by D. H. Lawrence, I think – that praises Melville for keeping the novel grounded in the semblance of a believable story about a hunt for a whale, even as the book piles on metaphors and symbolism that could have rendered the whole tale as an abstract allegory. Friedkin achieves something similar here: THE EXORCIST, we can see clearly now, is a film about people, who feel lost and helpless, who are trying to do their best, whether or not they are certain that God is watching over them. The film has a very scaled-down, credible tone, quite different from the adult fairy tale stylings of, for instance, HORROR OF DRACULA.
This leads me to my final point. From time to time, some critic will complain that THE EXORCIST’s view of evil is too small scale to mean anything (Stephen Thrower in his book Beyond Terror: The Flims of Lucio Fulci, comes to mind). Why, they ask rhetorically, does the Devil waste time tormenting a little girl in a room? The very fact that the question is asked shows that these viewers have missed the point.
Leave aside for a moment that the revised 2000 version (which is the one screened last night, which will be available on Blu-ray along with the original cut) offered an explanation in a restored bit of dialogue between Father Merrin and Father Karras. Focus instead on the entire vision of the world as it is presented in THE EXORCIST.
Everywhere the camera turns, we see examples of Satan’s work: the former alter boy, now a drunk sitting in his own urine and vomit in a subway; the pathetic inmates of an insane asylum, staring into space, helpless and lost in their own psychosis; the priest-psychiatrist – Karras – who has lost his faith because he has seen too many wounded souls that he could not repair. As if that were not enough, THE EXORCIST throws in a film-within-a-film, depicting campus unrest (with hints of potential political violence). Although never mentioned, the echo of Vietnam reverberates silently somewhere in the distance, and the the Georgetown setting tacitly reminds us of corruption in Washington, D.C. (this was the era of Watergate). Evil, if we only open our eyes and look, is everywhere present; the Devil’s fingerprints are scattered everywhere throughout the film, as the Evil One strives to breed despair in the human race.
Even if we do not believe in a literal Devil, the symbolism is clear: Evil is at work in the world. What happens to Regan Theresa MacNeil is only one manifestation, a small microcosm that brings the larger world into clearer focus. That’s what good dramas do. Although I dislike the oft-heard claim “It’s not a horror film,” in the case of THE EXORCIST I can accept it to the extent of saying, “It’s not just a horror film.” As shocking as it once was, hopefully we can now see more clearly that it truly is, as Friedkin has often said, a film about the mystery of faith – a faith all the more mysterious when set against the weary world view depicted in THE EXORCIST.
Paramount Pictures releases this sequel to writer-director Oren Peli’s slepper hit of 2009. Tod Williams takes the director’s chair from Peli, who serves as executive producer. Plot details are sketchy (practically non-existent), but the teaser trailer indicates that the low-budget, hand-made feel of the original has been retained. Actress Katie Featherston (who played the bedeviled Katie in the original) returns. The script is by Michael R. Perry.
Release date: October 22