The Possessed is a horror thriller film with Aussie flavour. It follows ‘accidental exorcist’ Jacob Chandler (John Jarratt), an average bloke with an incredible gift. Over years he has forged a career pulling evil spirits from clients as one would pull a rotten tooth. Along with his nephew Liam (Lincoln Lewis) the two have seen a sharp increase in the frequency and intensity of these ‘clearing’ sessions. Separately Liam’s new girlfriend Atalie (Lauren Grimson) happens to be someone with a supernatural gift if her own. Luckily Jacob is able to take her under his wing and show her the ropes. This happens just in time for what will turn out to be the most terrifying house call that Jacob has ever made. Based on the true accounts of Australian ‘accidental exorcist’ Mark Gardener.

Possession/exorcism films are practically a genre in their own right. With so many available it really helps when they do something to stand out from the pack. In the case of The Possessed for me it is how unabashedly Australian the film is.

Fans of writer/director Chris Sun should be excited here. With 2017’s ‘Boar’ and 2014’s ‘Charlie’s Farm’ he has already established himself in the Aussie horror film market. Having worked with worldwide cult film favourites such as Bill Moseley, Kane Hodder and Nathan Jones. Here Sun reunites with the psychopathic Mick Taylor himself John Jarrett.

Jarratt who has proved himself a versatile character actor over the years largely carries the film here. In the past even when playing psychos and scumbags there was still some endearing charisma at work. Likewise here the appeal of his performance comes from the actor’s own likeability transferred to screen.

I really enjoyed the portrayal of an exorcist in such a way I hadn’t seen before. Rather than the old priest/young priest cliche we’ve seen 100x here Jacob is nothing of the sort. Based on Mark Gardener, he is just a regular bloke who found himself pulled into this line of work. I liked that he doesn’t dress up in a uniform or even his Sunday best while performing his task. His method of extracting the evil into himself and then purging it was fascinating.

Some of Jarrett’s mannerisms and his method do come off as his hamming it up to 11. However the end credits feature footage of Gardener performing exorcisms in similar ways. I can only say that Jacob looks just as authentically ridiculous as the real guy.

Other characters throughout the film serve their purpose well. With several clearly having a great time with their over the top possesion scenes. This film’s comedy relief comes courtesy of the character of Orion, a flamboyantly gay friend of Atalie. His is the only performance I didn’t particularly care for coming across as more a stereotype than anything.

Unfortunately the exorcisms themselves do look very similar to every other cinematic depiction you’ve seen. Flashing lights, banging doors etc. These events being repetitive is an issue as well. By the point we see the ‘big’ one we’ve witnessed several already lowering the impact. There are still some impressive scares and special effects to be sure however.

This was my favourite part of the film, it’s amazing effects supervised by Steven Boyle. Frequent collaborator of Sun and the Spierig brothers (Winchester, Predestination) his credits also include locally filmed blockbusters such as Matrix, Star Wars and Hobbit films. Unsurprisingly this makes the creature designs, make up and gore effects throughout the film a true marvel.

While no masterpiece The Possessed is an entertaining horror with Aussie flair. Audiences looking for a good time and fans of Sun & Jarratt will find much to enjoy here.