In an early scene in Blackwater Valley Exorcism, youngest daughter Isabelle returns to her family’s ranch, clad in a nightie, blood smeared haphazardly on her face and hands. When questioned by her frantic mother, Isabelle replies, “I ate a rabbit.”
Soon after, Jeffery Coombs shows up as the town Sheriff, but if you get up and grab a beer from the fridge, you might miss him. He confronts the possessed Isabelle, attempting to add gravitas to his scene with some intense Herbert West faces, but she grabs his hand, shows him some Dead Zone type nonsense from his past, and Coombs flees the movie, double-time.
As a general consensus is eventually reached that Isabelle is possessed, all sorts of characters start popping out of the woodwork, both to offer their input on Isabelle’s condition and to engage in interminably long conversations with one another about the insanely contrived secrets they share. Father Jacob is called in to perform the exorcism and it is revealed through dialogue more melodramatic than anything you could hope to find in an episode of Charmed that he used to bang older sister, Claire, and ogled Isabelle when she was taking a shower once. The town vet shows up and, after he recovers from having been jacked in the heart with a wad of horse tranquilizer (don’t ask), it looks like he might have been having an affair with Blanche (Isabelle’s mother), which Ely (Isabelle’s father) discovers through a pile of old letters. So, that’s pretty dramatic right there. It is suspected that stable hand Luke was once tagging Blanche as well, but after being confronted by Ely, he angrily confesses that it is Isabelle that he loves. In another heartrending (not really) twist, the audience learns that Miguel, the other stable hand, was once a priest but had to abandon God when his family was killed by government workers or something, but after a spittle-enhanced crying scene, hey, he’s up for a boisterous exorcism, just as any good hired hand would be. Oh yeah, and Father Jacob once slapped Claire around when they were dating, but this doesn’t stop her from trying to polish his knob later in the movie. I hope I didn’t forget anything.
So where is Isabelle during these endless scenes of dramatic confrontation? She’s in the bedroom, tucked out of sight, waiting for Father Jacob to get his act together and exorcise her possessed ass. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the actress playing Isabella (Kristin Erickson) is woefully miscast; she comes across like a goth girl trying to act scary at a weekend rave. Without a strong narrative center, the film becomes bogged down with its self-perpetuating slog of forced plot manipulations and character confrontations.
It’s easy to be hard on Blackwater Valley Exorcism, especially when it’s compared to last year’s underrated and eerie The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Just take about 4 shots of cheap whiskey, a jigger-full of An American Haunting, add a dash of a Lifetime movie, throw in a couple squirts of an episode of The Young and the Restless, mix it all up with some dirty ice in an official Lionsgate straight-to-DVD shaker, and you’ve got yourself a Blackwater Valley Exorcism cocktail. It may not go down very smooth, but at least the next 90 minutes will be forgotten by tomorrow.