What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

Booze, drugs, sex and summoning the Devil clearly don’t mix. Kelly Blatz, Brittany Curran, Brett Dier and Stephen Lang star in Exeter.

exeterCast of Characters:
Patrick – Kelly Blatz
Reign – Brittany Curran
Brad – Brett Dier
Amber – Gage Golightly
Knowles – Nick Nicotera
Drew – Nick Nordella
Rory – Michael Ormsby
Greer – Kevin Chapman
Father Conway – Stephen Lang

Director – Marcus Nispel
Screenplay – Kirsten Elms
Producer – Brandt Andersen, Michael Corso, Marcus Nispel & Trent Othick
Rated R for strong bloody horror violence, language throughout, sexual references, drug use, and some nudity

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Once an institution known for its history of abuse, the Exeter School of the Feeble Minded is now being renovated by Father Conway (Stephen Lang), who plans to reopen the place as a youth center. Volunteering at the site is Patrick (Kelly Blatz), whose friends are eager to set up one hell of a party upon hearing that Father Conway will be away for the weekend.

Following a night of unbridled debauchery and lasciviousness, Patrick and his friends – brother Rory (Michael Ormsby), geek Knowles (Nick Nicotera), stoner Drew (Nick Nordella), dickhead Brad (Brett Dier), slut Amber (Gage Golightly) and goth-y chick Reign (Brittany Curran) – handle their excessive drinking and drug use responsibly by summoning the Morning Star himself, Lucifer. Of course – shocker – that leads to one of them getting hit with just a touch of demonic possession, and with everyone trapped in the building, the six remaining untainted souls fight to escape the hell they have found themselves in.

And boy, those demonic shrieks must wreak havoc on their hangovers.

Exeter comes from director Marcus Nispel, the man who gave us the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and Conan the Barbarian, so – uh – yeah. When not bastardizing classics of the horror and action genres, Nispel gives us such original fare like Pathfinder, a Viking film so preposterously silly in every unintentional way imaginable it makes How to Train Your Dragon look like a History Channel documentary. Those four films should be enough preparation for what you should expect with Exeter, a demon possession horror film that might also be a comedy – I can’t tell and neither can the movie. But then again, the film is neither funny nor scary, so who the hell really cares?

As one imdb.com user reviewer so eloquently put it: “Exeter? More like Excrement.”

Now, in fairness, to this film’s credit, it is sound on a technical level. The camerawork is fine, the sound design is fine and the editing is fluid. So what’s the problem then? Well… everything else. See, if I have to dig all the way down to “Well, at least the film’s in focus and I can hear what everyone’s saying.” just to find something positive about a film, then I think it’s safe to say the film sucks. Technical competence alone doesn’t guarantee a good film. Avatar is technical brilliance but everything else is utter bull shit. Exeter is technical competence surrounded by narrative and character idiocy.

Yes, this film is filled to the brim with some 100% absolute, bona fide morons, and they’re complemented with a story they’re stuck in that is equally moronic. How moronic? Well, in the words of Emily Barrett Browning, “Let me count the ways.”

1) The drug-addled is the first to get the axe. No surprise there, given who she is, but I think her blowing her brains is ominous foreshadowing of every viewer that has laid, is currently laying and eventually will lay eyes on this picture.

2) Did you know the Es in eXeTeR make “666” when flipped upside down? Nice to know the writers are gonna be phoning-it in too.

3) All these kids snorting and smoking and toking and shooting up and drinking and fucking and blowing. This is gonna be like shooting fish in a barrel for Satan.

4) Scratch that. These kids are so obnoxiously stupid, even Satan wouldn’t bother with these insufferable shitheads for a day, let alone all eternity.

5) What’s a good thing to do when intoxicated on a combo of drugs and alcohol? Summon evil spirits and play Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.

6) “Stop it! Let’s be mature!” – Kinda hard to take you seriously when you’re surrounded by beer bottles, joints, used condoms, magic mushrooms and raging libidos.

7) C’mon, kids. At least give me even just a tiny, miniscule reason to give a shit if you survive or not.

8) When someone points a loaded gun at you, it helps if you tell them they have no probable cause to be here right now. I’m sure they’ll oblige as they blast a hole in your head.

9) I can’t tell if Father Conway’s death is an unfortunate accident, or if Stephen Lang was so ashamed of being in this film he intentionally jumped through an oncoming car’s windshield just to ensure his way out.

10) Okay, hold on. A priest burying his head into a smoking hot college girl’s lap? I find that hard to believe. Not his head being buried in a lap, but the lap belonging to a smoking hot college girl and not a 10-year-old alter boy.

11) Topical humor, FTW! Bazinga!

12) Why the fuck is no one bothered by the immensely morbid detail Brad knows about dismembering a body?

13) Apparently priests are exempt from dismemberment.

14) Rory gets possessed, everyone freaks out. Amber gets possessed, no one bats an eye.

15) On an even more tragic note, statistics have also shown that female demons are only guaranteed 75% of a possessed soul to every one possessed soul a male demon earns… #demonpossessioninequality

16) When the shit really hits the fan, it’s best to renounce God and the Devil. That will, of course, render them powerless against all of you insignificant beings within the grand cosmos that is the vast, infinite universe that they control, and they’ll have no other choice but to back down.

17) Mr. Skeptic Brad goes from rejecting Jesus to clutching his crucifix like there’s no tomorrow in the span of five seconds. Seeing a possessed kid levitating ten feet above you might have that effect.

18) Satan has this uncanny ability to turn even the bitchiest little Christopher Hitchens wanna into Pilgrim’s Progress.

19) DIY exorcisms – God bless the internet… In this case, literally.

20) The exorcism doesn’t work. God is a sham… There is no God.

21) Okay, why didn’t it work?

  • “The cross didn’t have Jesus on it.”
  • “You spit in the holy water.”
  • How ’bout you did a DIY exorcism you found on some nobody’s channel on YouTube.

22) I’m not an expert in demonology, but I’m pretty sure telling the Devil to suck your dick isn’t the best way to go about defeating him.

23) Stoners are great aggravators of the spirit world. Not ’cause they have the power of the Holy Spirit on their side, but just ’cause they’re way too high to give a fuck about what happens to them.

24) “Stop pissing off the demon!” – words to live by.

25) When all else fails in ridding the evil spirits that your dumbass self brought on yourself, creating a DIY Ouija board certainly will help solve everything.

26) “What box? What box?!” – you might wanna heed Morgan Freeman’s warning on this. It didn’t end well for Brad Pitt.

27) Drew dies. Did the nearby crucifix have Jesus on it? Nope. I rest my case.

28) “Suck my fucking cock!” There it is again. I’m guessing that must be the millennials’ own “The power of Christ compels you!!”

29) Hey! Exposition dump! ‘Cause this film didn’t break enough overused horror film tropes.

30) Hey! A screeching cat jump scare. ‘Cause fuck it. This film isn’t even trying at this point.

31) Toothbrushes – the ultimate weapon against plaque, tooth decay, gingivitis, halitosis and Satan.

  • Tightly clustered bristles on the brush help clean those hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
  • Fluoride in toothpaste serves as an acting agent which prevents cavities and helps in the formation of dental enamel.
  • Jabbing them into the eyes helps take care of the possessed soul.

32) In the event, the toothbrushes don’t work, try suffocating the afflicted with a plastic sheet.

33) After that fails horribly, and you still haven’t realized you’re fighting a supernatural entity, bashing the afflicted’s head in repeatedly until it’s nothing more than a puddle of blood, skull fragments and brain bits should do the trick.

34) Okay, so you didn’t exactly get rid of the demon, but it’s one less dumbass character I have to deal with, so it’s still a win in my book.

35) Hey! Another exposition dump! ‘Cause you were dumb enough to fall for the first one, so here’s another one.

36) Moral of the story: Kids, don’t do drugs.

So as you can see, there’s more than enough stupid going on here, but that’s not the film’s primary problem. What really hurts this film is that Marcus Nispel has no idea what type of film he wants to make. Does he wanna make a horror film or a comedy? As a said earlier, I can’t tell, and the film certainly can’t as well. When it tries to be scary, it ends up being funny, and when it tries to be funny, it ends up being sad. A combination of both genres can’t work either ’cause it’s too tonally jarring to pass as a horror-comedy. That’s a whole lotta fail if you ask me.

Perhaps Nispel was trying to channel Wes Craven in making a self-aware exorcism flick a la Scream? Well, for one, Nispel is no Craven and two, Scream brought just enough fresh self-awareness to reinvigorate the slasher genre without being too wink at the camera heavy. At the end of the day, though, Craven made a slasher film whose self-awareness derived from one particular horror film loving character, not from the film’s story or tone itself. Yes, Jamie Kennedy’s horror junkie was good for some comic relief, but Craven intended on making a horror picture and kept the tone as such, albeit in a more clever fashion.

Exeter does boast a more competent level of technical craftsmanship than other small, indie films of its kind, but beyond praise for the guys operating the camera and boom mic, has absolutely nothing else to show for it. It wants to play the have its cake and eat it too game by being both horrific and comically ludicrous, yet like oil and water, the results don’t mesh well. You’ll laugh when you’re not supposed to; cry when it intends to have you laugh and then ultimately question your reason for living when you realize this is ninety minutes of your life you’ll never get back. At the very least, you can turn every misguided decision made by this film’s bevy of idiotic teens into a drinking game, but I suggest preparing your liver for a major ass-kicking first.

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