Not the worst direct-to-video horror flick I’ve ever seen, but that’s not the highest praise I’ve ever paid to a film. So based on the untold “true” story, this is about a paranormal research institution in the 1970’s. They come across one of their most promising patient yet (Rya Kihlstedt), who winds up being the only U.S. government confirmed case of possession. I’ll admit it, I bit on this one. This inspired me to do a couple of minutes of research after the fact to see if this was in fact true or not, and I don’t know whether that makes me a skeptic or just gullible. I’m not seeing anything official anywhere other than movie websites, which means that this film is pulling a Fargo. They also went through the trouble of constructing this film mockumentary style, which is an approach that instantly gives your story more credibility and believability.
Also, the choice to shoot everything that was old footage on actual film as opposed to digitally was a nice touch.
I spent the first half hour of this film distracted, because I could not for the life of me pinpoint where I had seen William Mapother previously in my mental film database. I had to stop watching, look him up on IMDb on my smart phone so as to finally realize that he was Ethan on Lost. He just has one of those faces, and given that he played a tertiary character on the show, it burrowed into my brain like a worm until I could solve it. He’s decent in here, but he is the only recognizable person featured. Everybody here is sporting a 70’s haircut and fashion, which does also help add to the authenticity.
Has there ever been an exorcist story that ended well?
I am of the opinion that if you’ve seen one exorcist movie, you’ve kind of seen them all. I was surprised with this because it was actually deviating from the standard formula… for the beginning at least. It couldn’t fully avoid the pitfalls of the subgenre, because almost every single one of these stories end in the same fashion, with it just cutting off without a final resolution. You should expect this here as well. The Atticus Institute holds your attention, but it does get a bit repetitive, hitting the same few notes over and over again. For a nothing of a film, it’s not bad, and I have definitely seen worse. It does have the benefit that this is only 80 minutes long if you subtract the end credits, but it’s really hard for me to recommend this to anybody but the most hardcore of horror fans.
The Atticus Institute (2015) **1/2
– Critic for Hire