The Horror Honeys: SXSW Review: 'Ava's Possessions'

SXSW Review: 'Ava's Possessions'

A Head Honey SXSW/World Premiere Review by Kat

Ava’s Possessions (2015)

Answering the question I never knew that I desperately needed the answer to, Ava’s Possessions follows Ava, a victim of possession as she tries to “pick up the pieces” of her once normal life after a month in the grip of a highly violent, highly sexual demon: Naphula (aka the "Spoiled Rich Kid" of the demonic realm), the feline hybrid of a lion, dragon, and a goat who carries a drum. The sound of the drum heralds his arrival in the mortal plane... so, y'know, get ready.

Pretty kitty.
Abandoned by her friends and patronised by her parents, sister, and her sister's grody fiancé (why are brother-in-law’s always awful? UGH), Ava must navigate a world that has moved on without her. From facing criminal charges due to her demonically inspired assaults, to losing friends because of some awkward sex (it happens), Ava’s only outlet are the people she meets at her support group for the formerly possessed. Think of it like AA for those who have been exorcised, and just like some AA members, Ava is attending under court order.

The Handbook for the Recently Exorcised - I need one

Help me get re-possessed, it'll be awesome. 
The idea behind Ava’s Possessions is highly original, and I loved the instances of subtle victim blaming, and the not so subtle backsliding of Ava’s fellow exorcisees who just can’t get enough of their demon. And really, who can blame them? This angle was actually the element that intrigued me the most. Demonic possession, especially of women, has been explored in many ways over the cinematic years -  It has been way to express reactions to religious fervor, sexual awakening, the onset of puberty… the list goes on. In Ava’s Possessions, the recently possessed come across more as recovering drug addicts. Some of them miss who they were when connected with their demon, fantasize about their relationship with the spirit that inhabited their body, and backslide willingly into possession. As someone who is completely obsessed with shows about drug use (but is totally terrified of drugs) this was a big hook for me, and at times I found myself more drawn in to the dynamics of the group than to Ava’s personal struggle. 

Ava is bad at a lot of things, but I don’t blame her. With parents who think that marijuana is a gateway to possession, to an ex-boyfriend who writes a song about your possession… I’d be bad at everything too. Some of my favourite scenes in the film are the clues left behind in her apartment about her ordeal: painting over the writing and symbols drawn/scratched on the walls, pools of dried blood hidden under carpets, a watch found in her couch, and a prostitute with some tales to tell. These clues end up being more interesting than the piecing together of her missing days.

Your ex is a dick, Ava.
Towards the end of the film, the storyline that originally drew me in has been overlapped by so many other intrigues and plot details that I found my concentration wandering a little, and my connection to Ava faded as the concept got muddier and plot elements that I didn’t actually care about were revealed. The pacing of the final third of the film reminded me of how the Canucks have played every single game since the 90s… strong in the first and second periods, but when the third period rolls around, everyone is a bit of tired and just kind of flings stuff at the opposing net until the clock runs out and it’s time to go home and have a beer. That is the one and ONLY time I will use a hockey reference in a review.

While what I loved about Ava’s Possessions had left the building by the time the credits rolled, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love the concept of the film, and I think it would have made for a really amazing short film or mini anthology instead of a full feature.     

Head Honey's verdict: 
3.5 awkwardly timed demonic possession flashbacks out of 5
Not gonna lie, that's kinda hot.
Ava's Possessions is now available on VOD