Studio: Shout Studios
Director: Chad Ferrin
Writer: Robert Rhine, Daniel Benton
Producer: Robert Rhine
Stars: Robert Miano, Bai Ling, Bill Moseley, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O¡¯Connor, Robert Rhine, Kyle Jones, Silvia Spross, Kelli Maroney, Matthew Moy, Adrienne Barbeau
A demon creates chaos for a group of eccentric plane passengers and a priest whose past has been haunted by the same spirit.
Everyone loves Adrienne Barbeau. No matter how many bad microbudget films he slums in, we¡¯ll always appreciate Lance Henriksen too. Bill Moseley similarly endures as another evergreen fan favorite. But can we finally agree that whenever B-movie idols headline DTV indie horror, or appear in extended cameos as is the case here, those projects usually turn into throwaway time-wasters?
¡°Exorcism at 60,000 Feet¡± supports that assertion as Exhibit #678,592. It¡¯s a horror-comedy whose humor is cheaper than the budget and whose narrative is as nonexistent as a reason to watch it. Let¡¯s cover positive points first because that won¡¯t take nearly as long as the negatives.
Credits confirm the production employed multiple grips, gaffers, electricians, etc. and it shows. I¡¯d stop a safe distance short of saying cinematography is impressive, but technical execution bats above average for a tiny feature. ¡°Exorcism at 60,000 Feet¡± shot on an actual Arri camera, not on a phone. Lighting looks good. Color timing stays consistent. The lens maintains focus. Angles change and editing keeps cuts coming for a sense of rhythm that isn¡¯t stagnant or simple point-and-shoot work.
Cast and crew apparently had a repurposed or replica airplane cabin to shoot in, although someone weirdly saw fit to decorate floors and walls with carpet to make it mirror the Brady Bunch¡¯s rumpus room. Curtains suspiciously separate seats every few rows too, so the 23 people populating the plane never have to be in frame more than five or six folks at a time. Because you can bet actors like Adrienne Barbeau didn¡¯t want to sit around set one minute longer than their contracts mandated.
The movie¡¯s bread and butter, i.e. its comedy, is another story. Speaking of story, the wisp of a premise involves a grizzled priest whose history with a particular demon has him escorting a cursed corpse on a flight to Vietnam. Hijinks ensue.
Boy howdy do they ensue. The first thirty minutes in fact feature no plot advancement at all, just a series of dippy skits where cartoonish stereotypes zing each other with visual gags. A goodfella goomba steals a Buddhist monk¡¯s cannabis and smokes out the lavatory. Kelli Maroney breastfeeds her Tourettes-afflicted little boy who is actually played by a pierced dwarf. Someone blasts Bai Ling with a fire extinguisher after her hair catches fire. A rabbi watches a muscled meathead seemingly masturbate only to find he¡¯s merely prepping his protein shake. You get the picture.
I understand what the writers think is supposedly funny about a buxom vixen ordering milk, being given two coconuts, then holding them over her breasts for a half-hearted Charro impression. (¡°Get it, boobs!¡±) I just stopped giggling at grade school humor around the time my age hit double digits.
Don¡¯t take my word on what low level of lame laughter we¡¯re dealing with. I can simply transcribe typical dialogue and let it speak for itself:
¡°Coffee, black please.¡±
¡°No black coffee, just coffee no milk.¡±
¡°That is black coffee.¡±
¡°I just told you we don¡¯t have black coffee. So which is it then?¡±
¡°Coffee without milk.¡±
¡°So not black then, yes?¡±
¡°Yes. I mean no. Yes. I mean no.¡±
¡°Make up your mind, I have to make rounds!¡±
¡°You¡¯re confusing me!¡±
¡°Exorcism at 60,000 Feet¡± does this Poor Man¡¯s ¡®Who¡¯s on First¡¯ routine two more times, once when three men repeatedly shout ¡°what?¡± at each other and again when demon and rabbi names get confused. (¡°Garvan, Feldman. Garvan, Feldman.¡±) If at first you don¡¯t succeed, fail, fail again.
In another exchange, a woman asks for a straw, to which an irritated flight attendant responds, ¡°what do I look like, Denny¡¯s?¡± The woman then asks, ¡°who¡¯s Denny?¡±
If hollow jokes aren¡¯t your thing, ¡°Exorcism at 60,000 Feet¡± isn¡¯t above taking an offensive route too. Characters include a deaf mute, an Arab terrorist in a red ¡°America Is Great¡± shirt whose leitmotif includes Arabic chanting over music straight out of ¡°Homeland,¡± and nude nuns who turn into lesbian lovers when the demon possesses them. The priest finds a moment to call one of the Vietnamese flight attendants, both of whom speak in exaggerated broken English that would make Mickey Rooney blush, ¡°a slanty-eyed devil.¡± It also turns out Bai Ling is transitioning from male to female so the script can sneak in one more insensitive line about how she needs another ¡°snip, snip.¡±
Irreverent comedy is one thing, but none of these bits are creative. They¡¯re merely ¡°how low dare we go¡± attempts at cellar floor humor to tease a shallow appearance of edginess. I¡¯d guess maybe stoned teenagers might be amused by the movie, except its downward punching remains insultingly easy to see no matter how much weed smoke gets in the way.
Under ordinary circumstances, I¡¯d shake my head at the threadbare story¡¯s nearly complete disregard for flow. For instance, the priest more than once shouts something urgent like, ¡°we have to stop the demon now!¡± In the next scene though, he simply sits down to either give or receive exposition in a calm conversation with another passenger.
But we¡¯re talking about a lo-fi production whose zombie dog isn¡¯t even a puppet, but a stuffed prop that performers have to unconvincingly wrestle around with. There¡¯s no real point in discussing lax details like how the priest makes a sign of the cross with his left hand, how the spoken flight number doesn¡¯t match the one displayed on a board, or how a broken cockpit window would instantly kill everyone even if they could somehow climb to 60,000 feet without being torn apart. ¡°Exorcism at 60,000 Feet¡± has the Teflon defense of ¡°we¡¯re supposed to be stupidly silly¡± to make criticisms go poof.
The main thing that matters with a movie like this is, is it funny? The answer is no. ¡°Funny¡± can be a subjective term. Not in this instance though, as you have to be incapable of coloring with all the crayons in the box to think a recurring gag about a bloody tampon constitutes cutting edge hilarity.
Skip this flight. Then hope our horror heroes start booking passage on projects that don¡¯t fly so far beneath their value. Otherwise their names are going to keep crashing into the runway with the rest of these wrecks.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 40