The film’s main protagonist, Ava is portrayed in a believable manner by Louisa Krause (Bluebird). Her character is a survivor of a demonic possession that lasted for one month. The demon was finally driven from her body by Father Merrino, acted in a few brief scenes by John Ventimiglia, whose most notable role was that of chef and restaurant owner, Artie Bucco, on “The Sopranos.” The opening minutes of “Ava’s Possessions” is when the viewer gets their first indication that the film is not taking a formulaic approach to the story of demonic possession. The aftermath revolving around the mystery as to what led to Ava being possessed, as well as piecing together the missing parts of her memory regarding the actions she took while under the demon’s control, are central to the story.
When Ava returns to normal, she has no recollection of how she behaved while under the demon’s power. Her actions, a multitude of which were criminal, have her facing the possibility of a prison sentence. There is, however, an alternative path she can take to avoid being incarcerated. Ava’s lawyer, JJ Samson (Dan Folger), offers her an opportunity to voluntarily enter a government program, that is run in conjunction with the Catholic Church, a support group called ‘Spirit Possession Anonymous.’ Upon successful completion of the program, which requires Ava to meet those whom she has wronged and make amends, she will no longer face criminal charges. There are snippets of scenes interspersed throughout the film, which either show or have characters telling Ava about her behavior while possessed. She fears, however, that not only does her vanquished demon want to regain control of her, but that some of her actions will not be able to be undone. For example, there is a large blood stain under the rug in the living room of her apartment. Could the blood belong to Conrad, a man Ava has no memory of ever meeting, and whose engraved wrist watch she found while cleaning her place?
While Ava attempts to get her life back to the way it was pre-possession, she learns that it will not be an easy endeavor. Her friends, one of whom is played in a minor scene by one of the stars of the HBO show “Girls, “Jemima Kirke, keep their guard up around her. Ava’s family: her mother, Joanna (Deborah Rush); father, Bernard (William Sadler); sister, Jillian (Whitney Able); and Jillian’s fiancé, Roger (Zachary Booth) are also not entirely comfortable spending time with her. They were by Ava’s side while she was fighting to regain control of her mind and body, but since her being set free, they collectively seem to be hiding information from her. In addition, she can’t seem to elicit much sympathy from any of them, even though they are aware that the way she acted while possessed was out of her control. Ava’s family’s unwillingness to be forthcoming about what they may know regarding her possession, adds to the mystery that runs throughout the entire film. Furthermore, when Ava tries to return to the music label she works for, she has a meltdown over the production of a music video, and is told by her boss that perhaps it was too soon for her to come back. Adding further difficulty to the overall situation is one of Ava’s fellow SPE support group members, the character Hazel, played by Annabelle Dexter-Jones. She is someone who wants her demon to return to her because she has never felt as alive, as during the time when she was possessed.
The atmospheric and dark toned “Ava’s Possessions” premiered at the “Dead by Dawn Horror Film Festival” in the UK on April 26, 2015. The film which has a runtime of 89 minutes was written and directed in a stylish manner by Jordan Galland (Alter Egos). I commend the filmmaker for taking a tired concept, and adding his own unique twist on the genre. In part, I felt he was attempting to convey how real, every day addictions, can be equated to the possession of an individual’s mind and body. The score composed by Sean Lennon (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead) fits very well with what is transpiring on screen. The movie which is parts horror, thriller, and mystery, features a solid cast. Other cast members included; two time Emmy winner, Carol Kane (Taxi), who plays Talia, an occultist who owns a shop that sells spells & potions. She provides a few comedic moments during the film; Wass Stevens appears in the role of Tony, who is the leader of the SPE support group; Alysia Reiner, who portrays Natalie Figueroa on “Orange is the New Black,” plays a prostitute named Noelle. She might hold the answers that could help Ava remember what happened while she was possessed; something which Noelle’s angry, blade wielding, pimp, who is quick to threaten bodily harm, Escobar (Joel de la Fuente) is not keen on.
There are enough twists and turns during the film to keep most viewers guessing until its conclusion. The film does, however, fall flat in a few areas. There is a subplot that involves a romantic interest between Ava and Lou Taylor Pucci’s character, Ben, who is the owner of an art gallery. He is also Conrad’s son, the man whose watch Ava found in her apartment. Ben wants to learn how Ava came to know his father just as much as she does. The relationship between Ava and Ben is not delved into enough, and for the most part is ignored in the overall film. Additionally, the ending felt rushed, it just didn’t seem to fit with the overall flow of everything that preceded it, and is a low point for an otherwise entertaining film.