See It Instead: The Possession of Hannah Grace.
Exorcise your right to watch free movies this week as we pick three classics to see instead of The Possession of Hannah Grace.
Exorcism movies are a dime a dozen lately, so we decided to comb through the genre to find three that were fit to beat the devil. From the classic that established the genre to a zany spoof film, we think we’ve got the goods. If gritty horror is your thing, we also pick an under appreciated gem from the talented Norwegian director of Trollhunter. Microwave some popcorn, skip the pea soup, and fire up these flicks you should see instead.
The Possession of Hannah Grace (2018).
A coroner receives the mangled body of a young woman. It turns out the woman died during a botched exorcism, which left her corpse in a terrifying state. As the night goes on, it becomes apparent that whatever spirit possessed Hannah Grace did not depart with her death.
The Serious Pick: The Exorcist (1973).
A young girl named Regan (Linda Blair) begins demonstrating odd behavior that confounds her mother (Ellen Burstyn). When medical options fail and a series of gruesome accidents haunt the household, the mother turns desperately to her parish priest. Convinced the events are demonic in origin, he summons a highly respected exorcist (Max Von Sydow) to help the young priest contend with the evil spirit.
This is the film that made the genre, and went on to become one of the most successful horror films of all time, both financially and at the Oscars. It has a great cast, including Academy Award winners Burstyn and Von Sydow, and gets a gripping performance from its young star. The special effects were hailed at the time, and hold up pretty well close to 50 years later. Besides the terrifying clash between good and evil, the film works as an allegory on several levels, giving The Exorcist long lasting appeal.
The Light-Hearted Pick: Repossessed (1990).
A grown woman (Linda Blair) begins demonstrating odd behavior that confounds her family. It turns out that the woman underwent a successful exorcism as a child, and had been symptom free for decades. Now that the devil is back and itching for a rematch, it uses two overzealous TV evangelists to lure back the priest (Leslie Nielsen) who originally defeated it. Broadcast live to millions of viewers, the old priest reluctantly attempts to thwart the devil a second time.
This silly farce is not exactly up to the standards of other Nielsen led spoofs like Airplane! or The Naked Gun, but does shine in moments. Even in lesser films (looking at you, Dracula Dead and Loving It!) Nielsen demonstrated that he was a natural at deadpanning zany material. The interactions between him and Blair are the highlights, as they both seem to be delighted to spoof Blair’s role in The Exorcist, recreating several of that film’s iconic moments. The inclusion of musical numbers are hit and miss, as is quite a bit of the broad humor used to target larger topics, although I like the actual WWE announcers brought in to televise the demonic death match! For fans of The Exorcist or Nielsen spoof comedies, this flick should possess you for an evening.
The Unconventional Pick: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016).
Late one night, a coroner (Brian Cox) and his son (Emile Hirsch) receive the body of a young woman (Olwen Kelly) from the police. As the corpse is at the center of a grisly murder mystery, the authorities request that the pair perform an autopsy as soon as possible. As they proceed, bizarre clues and unexplained injuries reveal themselves, alarming the pair. The night becomes a trial by terror as the events that led to the gruesome scene the police uncovered begin to manifest inside the morgue.
Director André Øvredal (Trollhunter) spins another fine one with The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Looking to prove he could make a traditional horror flick, he dissects the genre and patches together a terrifying film that honors and subverts expectations to great effect. His attention to detail slips the audience into a horror situation that feels familiar, yet which surprises in clever ways. The cast is excellent, especially Kelly who was chosen to play the corpse because of her superb physical training. The film is an extra level of creepy using a real person in many scenes instead of a prosthetic stand-in. With two great and unexpected horror films under his belt, I’m excited for whatever Øvredal comes up with next.