'Possessed' (Pos eso): Fantasia Review

Courtesy of Fantasia Festival
A funny claymation riff on exorcism cinema.

The cutest disemboweling you'll see all year.

Claymation for the Fantasia set, Samuel Orti Marti's Possessed applies Wallace & Gromit-style to a Basque exorcism tale that, though comedic and very friendly, is gore-stuffed and as irreverent as South Park. An easy sell to this crowd, the pic is briskly funny and colorful enough to reach beyond hardcore genre auds; midnight theatrical bookings would be especially appropriate.

A clever opening sequence introduces Father Lenin, a priest being forced to do some Indiana Jones-style tomb raiding by a corrupt Bishop; and Trini, a flamenco star who married a celebrated matador, had a child, then lost her husband in a freak accident.

Or was it murder? The couple's young boy, Damian (of course), has been exhibiting sick tendencies and paranormal powers. He's possessed by a demon, but it takes several scenes of outrageous telekinetic homicides before Trini and her mother-in-law grasp this and seek help — by which time the virtuous Padre is neck-deep in his own problems.

Marti's script has plenty of almost-shocking fun at the Catholic church's expense, and works in pleasing allusions to film history both in the horror genre and beyond. Its characters are engagingly styled, but the animation's biggest coup is the cuteness — no, really — of its Itchy & Scratchy-like carnage. Is it immoral for us to laugh as a man stretches his wife's face out by her nose, slices off the skin, and makes a mask of it? Probably. But as Possessed demonstrates, going to Hell doesn't always mean you have to stay there.

Production companies: Basque Films, Conflictivos Productions

Cast: Anabel Alonso, Álex Angulo, Carlos Areces, Mariví Bilbao, Santiago Segura, Josema Yuste

Director-Screenwriter-Producer: Samuel Orti Marti

Executive producers: Carlos Juarez

Costume designer: Flora Cuevas

Editor: Remi Hueso

Music: Aritz Villodas

No rating, 82 minutes

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