I first heard of this film as a result of backlash over it being just another “low-budget ripoff” of the shockumentary films like REC and Paranormal Activity, but that is far from the truth. While most likely influenced by the previously mentioned films, The Possession of David O’Reilly deals little with possession, and heavily with psychological horror. Nonetheless, the hate for this flick did not reach me, as I found this low-budget English effort to consist of some pretty darn good horror at times, resulting in a borderline-positive watch in the end.
In the wee hours of the morning Alex and Cate are awakened when David, a friend of Alex, shows up at their door after recently discovering his long-time girlfriend has been cheating on him. David is distraught over the ordeal, but his pain worsens when he begins to notice ghastly creatures making their way into Alex’s home. Little does David know, this horror is not new to him, and he has involved his hospitable friends in a real-life nightmare.
I have a strong love for films focusing on the paranormal or possession, so naturally my interest in this flick was pretty high. You can imagine the look on my face when I realized that this film’s title was quite misleading, however how “misleading” is up to interpretation. Read on.
The storyline was an interesting one that had me pretty interested from the get-go, however early on it comes off as the usual psychological horror film in the vein of Repulsion, with David seeing things he believes to be there, but evidence to the contrary proves otherwise…or so it seems. It does not take long before the horror hits the screen, about 14 minutes or so, and from then on out things stay pretty steady as far as the horror goes. I was very glad to see that the horror David faces came in the form of creatures that barrage him in the home of his friends, which was a break from the usual psychological horror consisting of only time-warped murderous delusions, although we do get some of that in this story here and there. Numerous twists and turns abound in this piece, with some of the mystery elements not made clear until the film’s climax, which itself is a bit of a mystery. Why so? Well, because most of the film you are left wondering whether or not David is crazy or if he is actually seeing hideous creatures trying to make their way into the home. Alex and Cate don’t believe him at first, naturally, but when they see the horror that David is going through they give him some benefit of the doubt, which ultimately leads up to the harrowing climax that will leave it up to you to decide whether or not he was possessed, delusional, or seeing creatures. So, in a sense, the film’s title is not as misleading as it seems, but should not be taken literally.
The film’s two novice directors, Andrew Cull and Steve Isles, did a great job executing this film with what little budget they had to work with. The atmosphere is dark and results in incredible sets that consist of numerous dark corners for the creatures to wait and lurk in, providing good tension as you never know when one of them is going to pop out. The look and mannerisms of the creatures was great as well, and Cull/Isles do a great job of keeping them somewhat hidden but giving them enough screen-time to get the scares going. Their overall execution of the horror was great, and I especially loved their long, drawn-out, Argento-esque scenes making the most of the creepy sets and using creative camerawork to deliver the horror. So if the horror was good and the story was unique then why only a 6-rating? Well the story had its flaws, which came mostly regarding the usage of its characters and some pretty bad dialogue. Things can get confusing at times, which will turn some people off as this was not necessarily the “good” kind of confusing associated with quality horror flicks like Cemetery Man, Triangle, and Jacob’s Ladder, but one that should have written better.
Overall, The Possession of David O’Reilly is a moderate horror film that gives some good horror thanks to good direction, and its unique storyline provides some engaging material to keep things interesting. The film does come with faults that some may find unforgivable, but for those of you seeking a psychological horror film with a unique twist and a climax that’ll leave you debating the film’s events then this should be good enough for you.
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