GOOD IDEA, FAILED EXECUTION
The film has a great premise: Evil needs to be evicted scientifically and it does not have a religion. Dr. Ember gets into the mind of the kid who has been taken over by the evil being and attempts to wake up the child by showing that evil is in the dreams. Although the film falters a bit in the execution, the idea of Exorcism that is not religious in nature is a welcome one. It has many creepy, scary moments even though the science in the movie is suspect.
Dr. Seth Amber is wheelchair bound after a car accident that killed his wife and kid. He has a unique ability: he can get into the minds of people possessed by evil entities. And he has saved many lives where the Vatican and it’s team of exorcists have failed.
So far so good. You like the idea of dealing with a demon without the priests and the crucifixes without the green projectile vomit, the writing on the wall with blood, the violent breaking of furniture, rattling of doors and windows and the tried and done-to-death twisting of heads and limbs. But then the evil entity named Maggie grabs the young boy’s dad and holds him aloft in the air then kills him by smashing him on the floor. And the film sort of disintegrates.
If the dad is vital to the boy who is possessed, why kill him? Won’t that bring the boy out of the dream like state he is in, where he thinks all is well between dad and him? And we see the dad being taken away by the ambulance, but no one questions what is going on in that apartment? No policeman is curious enough to find out what happened, how, what the strange contraptions were…
If the evil Maggie is looking for Dr. Ember to destroy him, why does she not go straight to him? She’s unafraid of God, then Maggie could have got to Ember by possessing the priest friend (Tomas Arana, you saw him in Gladiator) who has some really cool artifacts. Having another demented person do the killing seems to be too random.
Aaron Eckhart looks suitably disheveled and traumatised on the wheelchair, and you wish more was shown than they actually do. The science and his assistants are interesting, but you want to know how they became a team. And this is where you realise that this story would work better on TV.
The evil is creepier than what you have seen in regular horror movie fare because it has no biblical or pagan back-story. No wronged past as a human being so now it is avenging. This evil Maggie just is truly evil. And its motive is simply to hurt Dr.Ember by hurting everyone he loves. Now that is truly evil and as Ember says, ‘There are worse things than dying,’
You come away with that scary music ringing in your ears, wishing they had polished up the science a bit and then released the film…