It's a good day for an exorcism, am I right?! Every year we are met with numerous exorcism movies that can be hit or miss, but unfortunately, most of them usually miss. Either they try too hard to recreate a modern era version of The Exorcist or they have a story that's just all over the place (but usually with some sick visuals). New to video on demand services is THE ASSENT - a film written and directed by Pearry Reginald Teo - which is neither of those; it take the exorcism genre and blends it with psychological thriller elements that make for a rather fun watch. And to be honest, even calling it an exorcism film is a bit of a stretch because The Assent isn't so much about the exorcism itself, but about the journey to the practice and the descent into the darkest corners of the human mind. This film is all over the place but in a mind-bending way: a way that will have you questioning if what you're seeing is really there, or if it's all just a trick of the mind. But quick - don't blink; you don't want to miss it. The Assent has a lot to be proud of, and a dark story paired with disturbing visuals that are definitely worthy of your time and money.
There are two storylines playing out in The Assent that eventually come to meet, but the main storyline the film follows is that of young single father Joel (played by Robert Kazinsky) and his son Mason (played by Caden Dragomer). Joel suffers from schizophrenia and is doing his best to provide the best life as possible for him and his son. His schizophrenia affects his daily life, subjecting him to seeing shadow figures and horrific creatures peeking around corners and lurking in the halls. To help combat the illusions, he uses a Polaroid camera to take a photo of the area he sees the hallucination in, and it is proof to himself that what he thinks he's seeing isn't actually, physically there. But what happens when poltergeist activity begins to haunt the house, along with bizarre behavior from his son like speaking in tongues and rolling back his eyes? Enter Father Lambert (played by Peter Jason) and his sidekick Brother Michael (played by Douglas Spain) who come to assist Joel and his son by performing an exorcism on the boy. But there is something you should know about Father Lambert: he's fresh out of prison for the death of a five year old that passed while he was performing an exorcism on him. But Joel and Mason need Father Lamberts help to rid the demon Abaddon from the boy... or do they??
The Assent - which is described as fully giving in to the demon and succumbing to their will - does a really great job intertwining the two storylines - that of Joel/Mason and that of Father Lambert - and bringing the characters together. It's obviously pretty predictable early on that it's going to happen, but what follows is definitely anything but predictable! The film takes you on this super fucking dark journey into the mind of a "madman" as he struggles with juggling both worlds - that of the physical, and that of the mental - all while trying to be a great father. But the darkness clearly begins to overpower him as he willingly hands his son over to Father Lambert and Brother Michael to do their exorcism on the boy, even though they lock him out of the room as they perform the rite. It's a mentally exhausting process for Joel, and actor Kazinsky does a pretty rad job portraying the mental toll it begins to take on him as he feels he's losing control of what's real and what's a hallucination. Father Lambert - a character I really don't care for - kinda comes across as just a fucking loon, to be honest, with the creepy way he talks and what feels like arrogance. Maybe it's just me, but his oddly cold personality just wasn't doing it or me. Regardless, the story unfolds pretty much as expected until the final half hour or so when shit just hits the fan and The Assent takes its dark, twisted turn. If you didn't like the movie up until this point, now's when you're going to get your wicked and badass pay off. You're not gonna want to miss this.
The visual effects of the film also earns the movie some points, with a good amount of subtle illusions and "jumpscares" in the form of various demons and creatures, it's pretty awesome. While they are all clearly cgi characters, they all do look pretty fucking cool (I wouldn't mind seeing more of them) and their placement is spot on. Like I said, blink and you'll miss the terror. The film has a few scenes where Joel takes a photo with the camera facing the viewer, so you'll see the flash from the camera go off and if you're watching this movie in the dark, you'll get this really sick effect from it (especially one scene in particular where he takes a few photos). It adds an extra little something that was pretty cool. Overall, though, The Assent is a quick, fun watch for those that are into the demon/exorcism genre of horror, just don't expect to actually see a ton of exorcism footage, because that's not really what the film is about. Just know that the pay off, in the end, will be totally worth it. I don't see the film becoming an instant classic, but it's definitely one I gotta recommend! Check it out now, on video on demands services!