ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

Some jobs are more glamourous than others; some people are perfect for what they do. That’s the problem for Richard Vanuk (Falicki), a pill-popping alcoholic writer whose main source of income is performing exorcisms. And even that doesn’t pay enough to stop the landlord’s son threatening him every day for overdue money. As the film’s title suggests, though, this isn’t a voluntary career choice Vanuk has made. It’s just something he can do.

Vanuk has no problem vanquishing demons from the poor people he has to visit. He just gets a call from the mysterious agency that hires him and drops in on them. The actual exorcism part takes seconds, but Vanuk builds up to that moment, chatting and purging his soul to the possessed and pitiful. The procedure also takes a lot out of him, causing him to pass out and wake covered in a mixture of blood, sweat, booze and - all too often - vomit. If you think your nine to five routine is gruelling, you wouldn’t last a day as Vanuk.

There are some people who want to help him, such as his brother who gets him an office job, which causes him to disassociate even more and realise he should stick to doing what he does best. As the exorcisms continue, his life and mind begin to spiral further and further into a state of disarray. His squalid apartment is lined with empty bottles and his battered hip flask is never empty, his personal demons clearly harder to beat than the others.

Falicki’s film is a claustrophobic and dense nightmare. It’s shot with a palette that highlights the seedy and ramshackle existence of the main character, more akin to the grimy look of The Driller Killer than a possession film (with the bizarre and detached tone of Union City), with the colours saturating the screen and tinting Vanuk’s world. Managing to avoid the tropes of the subgenre, we’re presented with a variety of persons under the demonic influence, but they’re not the focus. As Vanuk, Falicki holds the attention throughout, whether it’s during a pre-exorcism monologue, an impromptu food fight or while he’s seeing to the stigmata that flare up following the process. He finds it much easier to talk to and open up to the possessed, although one client - a deeply religious man who was blind before Vanuk cured him - does seem to get through to him at one point. He sees the effect he has on people and how grateful they are, but even this doesn’t help him come to terms with the gift he has. The narrative gets deliberately skewed throughout as Vanuk’s profession gets the better of him, with some moments making the viewer unsure what they are seeing; be it a mystery figure here or an odd reference there…

While Accidental Exorcist is a tad overlong and occasionally ponderous, it’s an extremely engaging film that touches on some very tough existential issues but is handled with an intensely dark humour. It will be hard going for some viewers, but it’s certainly worth the time and could one day be held in high regard as a cult film.

ACCIDENTAL EXORCIST / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DANIEL FALICKI / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL FALICKI, WARREN CROYLE, SHERI BETH DUSEK / STARRING: DANIEL FALICKI, FAYE SILLS, SHERRYL DEPRES, DAVID HIGBEE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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