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Exeter - Movie REview


3 stars

Exeter, a horror film that features a makeshift exorcism and something equivalent to human protein shakes, is potentially the shot in the arm the genre needs. It’s bloody, somewhat humorous, and ends with a twist that many won’t see coming. I’m not suggesting that the movie is fantastic by any stretch of the imagination but, when compared to the cups of horror corn Hollywood has been churning out and profiting from, this flick at least has some creativity in its over-the-top grisly swagger.  

Director Marcus Nispel (2011’s Conan the Barbarian, 2009’s Friday the 13th, and 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) has finally graduated from his Platinum Dunes tutelage and stepped out from beneath his bloody “King of the Remake” crown. He gets his hands dirty with this one and its filth is a bit infectious while its many hungover characters scramble to deal with some extreme situations. While there are multiple leaps in logic in the struggle to understand the demonic attacks from their besties, Exeter and its story of a child named Devon does manage to startle and earn your attention.

Stylistically gritty, Exeter is a film about the lasting effects of a family wound that just won’t heal. The Exeter School of the Feeble Minded, where countless reports of abuse and neglect once occurred, has sat in silence while its many secrets walk its lengthy halls. It has been abandoned by the living for many years but, under the careful watch of Father Conway (Stephen Lang), it is finally in the process of a long-gestating restoration.

While the makeover to the building is a nice thought, it simply doesn’t defeat the many rumors about the spooky building. Patrick (Kelly Blatz) and Brad (Brett Dier) and some of their friends are about to learn, first hand, of the threats held within its decaying walls as their plan to hold an all-nighter in the school unfolds. Full of demonic possessions, levitations, grisly decapitations, and other ghastly situations, Exeter is more than a wild night of beer, drugs, and sex for this group of teenagers. It is, in fact, pretty sobering.

Bury the past. Celebrate the future. Except Father Conway cannot. And screenwriter Kirsten Elms does a good job detailing why the school will not be silenced – even if she can’t silence the annoying traits of the teen characters within its walls. It’s a common complaint in these films and I guess, as we will never outgrow the need for the horror genre, we just have to face the fact that teenagers ARE annoying and stop bitching about it.

Nispel doesn’t break any new ground with his work in Exeter. He doesn’t need to. The film and its many supernatural elements provide enough wtf scenarios to keep audiences from looking away from the screen. The 90-minute film is perfectly timed. There literally is no dull moment and, when things do slow down, they don’t dominate. How could they from all the thumps and thuds from a pissed off demon? The film avoids being a burden as it honestly does keep audiences guessing as to who is tormenting the group of partiers and the whys of the possession.

Of special note is the amount of gore in the film. It’s rich with realistic effects (involving a split face and a graphic shotgun blast to the head) and opens with an unexpected jolt that announces that, yes, this is a film where anything can happen. While I could argue endlessly about the convenient use of smartphones in the film, I’m going to let it pass. Why bother?

Exeter is admittedly forgettable but, while on, it is definitely a suspenseful lesson in unrelenting brutality.


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Exeter - Movie REview

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, language throughout, sexual references, drug use, and some nudity
91 mins
: Marcus Nispel
Kirsten McCallion
Stephen Lang, Brittany Curran, Gage Golightly
: Horror
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't follow that guy in the woods. That's how rapes happen."
VIVA Pictures
Official Site: http://www.festivalexpress.com/
Release Date:
April 26, 2004
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 11, 2014
Synopsis: An abandoned asylum known for its horrific treatment of its patients. An all-night, drug-fueled party. A bloody nightmare that no one could predict.


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