THE CHANGING OF BEN MOORE

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

The Changing of Ben Moore (which has somewhat bizarrely lost its definite article for the UK release) is an ultra-low budget Canadian entry in the found footage cycle, dealing with an eponymous character who has taken to sleepwalking and may or may not be possessed by the Devil.

At least that’s what the filmmakers would want you to take from what’s presented. The truth is a little short on ambiguity and altogether lacking in any attempt at either explanation or motive, and the most you can really take from it is a reasonable performance from Umberto Celisano.

Ben Moore is an orphan living in his otherwise empty aunt’s house, and whose adoptive brother Derick (Corey Beaulieu) chooses to record Ben’s descent into somnambulism on his video camera, overseen by Ben’s disapproving girlfriend Sara (Shannen Melissa). Over the course of the film’s 80 or so minutes, we see various incidents in which Ben shambles around the house after dark, often spewing up black bile or finding himself covered in blood. Meanwhile, Ben’s dog Milo disappears and later turns up eviscerated, and the neighbour from three doors down is discovered in waste ground at the rear of the property, having been torn in half.

Even in the lowest of low budget movies, it is incumbent upon the work’s creators to fashion a believable premise populated by credible characters and with realistic consequences to the incidents portrayed, none of which happens here. Instead, what occurs in the house appears entirely isolated from the outside world, in spite of a number of cameo appearances from various friends, relatives and official figures – including a dreadfully badly-staged news item in which the reporter introduces her piece with the announcement that it’s “9am in the morning”. None of the rather anodyne events depicted seem to penetrate the behaviour of the house’s occupants, with talk of a trip to the doctor and a visit from an apparent exorcist (possibly the least convincing performance ever committed to camera) coming and going with no real effect. Ultimately Ben’s progress into possession is never explored, explained or even exhibited with any sense of conviction.

In the end, characters appear and disappear (generally without any sense of loss, often thanks to the woodenness of the performances) until the film climaxes with one final, ultimately fatal attack – as betrayed by the nature of the movie’s introduction. And that’s it.

If writer/director Jason Mills had drawn an investigatory narrative with some clues to Ben’s condition, or if the plot had suggested even the most basic possibilities, the film might have been able to build a sense of reason behind what we witness. Unfortunately, it is entirely lacking in that department, and worth watching only for its likeable central performance.

Special Features: None

THE CHANGING OF BEN MOORE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JASON MILLS / STARRING: UMBERTO CELISANO, SHANNEN MELISSA, COREY BEAULIEU, BRUCE NOVAKOWSKI / RELEASE DATE: TBC

 


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