In Bad Exorcists, a possessed high school girl feverishly writhes in bed. Oblivious to their daughter's demonic state, her parents tell her they're leaving for a night out and place a bottle of green juice on her bedside table—we all know where this is going.
A loving parody of horror movies, Bad Exorcists is intentionally cliché. Three Catholic school dweebs seek to elevate their status by entering a local film competition. Inspired by a zealous schoolteacher in a nun habit who takes possession very seriously, they decide to make a movie about an exorcism.
After they convince their cool classmate Lisa (Claire Berger) to star, the boys inadvertently get her possessed. Charlie (Sean Roney), Matt (Alex Knapp) and Dana (Julian Master) spend the rest of the film trying to unfuck their situation and save Lisa's soul.
With a budget cobbled together from a Kickstarter fund, the film was created by a group of recent University of Oregon grads, including writer/director Kyle Steinbach, who was a production assistant on The Office. When that show wrapped, he got to work producing his own feature, pulling in favors, fundraising and even stepping in front of the camera for a cameo.
The film was shot in three weeks back in 2013. This week, Bad Exorcists finally got its Oregon debut at a Lake Oswego theater, and is now on streaming services.
The film has heart, technical flair and is competently funny. Bad Exorcists looks great, sounds scary and there's an effects sequence near the end that is Hollywood quality.
Where Bad Exorcists suffers is primarily in the script itself. The first half of the movie is a painful slog, full of flat characters like Vanessa (Suzanna Atkins), who plays Charlie's mean girlfriend. Atkins does an ace job channeling Aubrey Plaza's character from Scott Pilgrim vs The World, only Vanessa seems to have no other role here than to be a foil to Charlie.
But at the halfway point, the action ramps up and the humor hits a stride. Bad Exorcists remains laugh-out-loud funny until the very end, when things resolve on a flat note. Nonetheless, as a first effort, it's something to be proud of.