Saturday, September 1, 2012

How many anonymous devil possession movies can there be?

It seems we can't get through the dregs of the release schedule these days without them throwing another devil possession movie at us.

Early January and late August are generally considered the two weakest times of the year to release a movie in theaters, and each of those periods have featured an anonymous devil possession movie in 2012.

On January 4th, it was The Devil Inside. And on August 31st, it's The Possession. Even with Sam Raimi listed as a producer, this one seems pretty dubious. Plus, the fact that the last day of August falls on a Friday this year makes the extremity of the release date within this dregs period seem even greater. If there were an August 32nd, they would have released it that day instead.

Of course, the moment you make such a generalization, you can just as easily disprove it. August of 2011 had no devil possession movie, unless you want to consider the astronauts in last year's Apollo 18 to be "possessed" (and their behavior certainly indicates that, though it would be a lot more fair to blame aliens than the devil). But January of 2011 saw the release of The Rite, and The Last Exorcism came out on August 27th of 2010. (Though to be fair, I saw that one and can say it was effectively done.) You could even fit Legion (released in January of 2010) into that category, though the FX budget of that movie made it a little less forgettable all told. (In terms of quality, though, it was worse than forgettable -- it was memorably bad.)

How far back does this go? August 2009 didn't have anything, but January 2009 had The Unborn. At some point, though, you could start changing the generalization to this: Januarys and Augusts feature bad horror movies, period, not specifically devil possession movies.

Of course, you'd be foolish to discount the role of the Paranormal Activity films in the relentless churning out of these movies with similar titles and similar subject matters. The fourth one will be upon us this October, and unless people suddenly stop wanting to see them, there will undoubtedly be a fifth in October of 2013. And pretty soon we'll be in Saw territory, if we're not there already.

I'm wondering if there has been a handing off of the baton from torture porn movies to devil possession movies. You don't see all that much torture porn coming out anymore, but devil possession seems to be all the rage, even if most of the movies in this subgenre barely make a blip at the box office. Something about the world we live in today makes us more fearful for the eternal lives of our souls than for the loss of various limbs hacked off by ordinary, run-of-the-mill psychopaths who only have a devil on their shoulder, not working them like a puppet.

Bring on September. I haven't wanted to see anything in the theater in weeks now.

And have a terrific Labor Day weekend, everyone.

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