Since the Exorcist first premiered to critical and public acclaim, possession films have taken over the horror genre like flies on a corpse. Every other release nowadays seems to be a retread of the same old story we’ve seen executed better a hundred times before, with only a few rare exceptions (i.e. the Last Exorcism, the Taking of Deborah Logan or even above-average Exorcism of Emily Rose). In June, director L. Gustavo Cooper attempts to tackle this tired sub-genre by throwing in some unique twists and a more character-driven plot, with mixed results for us viewers.
Though the film is sometimes confused regarding who’s the actual main character, the story mostly follows Kennedy Brice in a surprisingly exceptional performance as June, a disturbed young girl with a secret occult power living in an abusive foster family after her biological parents’ mysterious death. When she’s found to be responsible for a series of unexplainable accidents related to her imaginary friend Aer, June is eventually moved to a new family. It is there that she meets Lily and Dave Anderson, played by Victoria Pratt and Casper Van Dien, a couple that seems to genuinely care for her well-being. When her supernatural side reveals itself once more, however, it’s up to her family to discover what’s really going on with their new daughter.
Though obviously borrowing elements from better films, there are actually some interesting supernatural ideas introduced early on that pique your interest, but they don’t really amount to anything by the end. The paganist setup, while refreshing at times due to the overuse of Christian ideology in this type of movie, is easily one of the worst aspects of the story. June is really at its best when dealing with more down-to-earth issues like motherly love and the consequences of abusive families, rather than generic prophecies about apocalyptic children acting as vessels for eldritch spirits.
The characters and dialogue were all realistically written, and at no point was there a bad performance, but you never get the chance to truly know the people going through these horrible situations. While it was always interesting when the family members interacted with each other, more screen time was unnecessarily devoted to June’s imaginary friend than to her new parents. This results in the characters felt like lone chess pieces on a board waiting for the plot to push them forward. Kennedy Brice does stand out as a truly great child actress, however, as a lot of scenes are carried by her performance alone.
Overall, there is nothing actually wrong with June; every story-beat was decently presented and Cooper’s direction was both somber and energetic when it needed to be, but the film lacks a defining creative spark. By the time the end credits roll, you might not remember much of the story that preceded them, though you will most likely have had an entertaining experience. If the horror genre wasn’t already over-saturated with possession films featuring creepy but vulnerable children being besieged by otherworldly forces, I would probably recommend June as fun late-night romp. Seeing as that’s not the case, however, you’d be better off watching something a bit more original.