"Exeter" is a movie with a story behind it. It's from director Marcus Nispel (who, outside of his "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake, hasn't exactly done anything to make me go "Wow, that wasn't bad"-let's just say that his remake of "Friday the 13th" doesn't hold up for me) and all around horror mega producer Jason Blum. The story is that it shooting started in 2011 (under the title "Backmask") and was finished in 2012...then it just sat in limbo for a while. It wasn't until this year that it finally got a minuscule theatrical release before being dumped to video a month or so later. It's also the first movie Nispel has done that isn't a remake, reboot or adaptation of someone else's work, but that doesn't mean that it's good.
The story deals with a group of dumb teens (is there any other kind in these movies?) that decide to party in an abandoned asylum and what do ya know, decide to dick around and play with the occult. This leads to someone getting possessed, and tempers flare. In the process, this demonic entity can also jump from body to body, which soon turns into a fight for survival and a battle to find out the secrets of the asylum-secrets that may involve one Father Conway (Stephen Lang)
"Exeter" isn't just a bad movie-it's a frustrating one as well, as I could tell that there is actually potential for it to be better. The acting is hit and miss (Lang in particular seems wasted in what essentially feels like an extended cameo), but the gore effects and gore gags are actually pretty neat, and some of the jokes and one liners thrown in are amazingly enough kinda to pretty funny. That and the story-a demon that jumps from body to body-is a neat twist on the demonic possession genre. So, where does it go wrong?
For starters, the direction and editing are suspect. Nispel has never really been the strongest director, and his movies (especially "Pathfinder" and his "Conan the Barbarian" remake) are usually edited in a what that it feels more like a music video for a shitty Industrial Rock band than it does an actual horror movie. He also doesn't understand how things like build up for basic suspense work, as the movie jumps into horror territory pretty fast. However, none of it is scary, little of it is interesting and it all ends up feeling more like a poor man's version of "Night of the Demons" than it does something worth watching.
Then there is the script-hoo boy, the script for this thing sucks. None of the characters are likable in the least here. Like his "Friday the 13th" remake, they are all stereotypes and thinly written people you don't feel an ounce of sympathy for. The mere fact that someone says "supple ass" gave me some real douche chills. Then there's the fact that there isn't much of a payoff here. In fact, once I learned all about the entity and how it ties into everything, I just said out loud "that's it? That's what it is?"
By the time it ended, I can say that I've seen worse this year as far as horror goes. However, the end result really left me cold, and while it's nice to see the director trying to do something that's original (well, as in it isn't a remake of something) for a change, I also can't help but wish that the end result was better. This movie is the definition of "swing and a miss".