Directed by: #JohnPerivolaris
Written by: #JohnPerivolaris
Back in 1973, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist took the world by storm. This battle between good versus evil, along with its extraordinary practical effects, those “memorable” scenes and religious undertones landed Friedkin’s movie with a bang, the shockwaves of which are still felt today.
John Perivolaris’s three-minute-long short film, The Orthodox, is the latest in a long line of titles to find influence in Friedkin’s classic: most notably in its visual design. Unfortunately, the similarities end there and any sense of horror gets lost to a tonally confused tale of moral ambiguity.
A priest (Tony Macdonald) in mourning for his daughter comes face-to-face with a demon possessing and destroying the body of a young girl (Bianca Cooper). While mocking the priest (all demons enjoy mocking priests), it claims to know the whereabouts of his lost daughter. And the demon will tell him! If he’s willing to sacrifice the young girl.
The problem with all this is there’s not enough context written into the film for us to really care about any of it. The performances themselves are generally pretty good though, and apart from the odd hiccup here and there, there’s very little to complain about. It’s just a shame that more time wasn’t taken to develop the characters further and establish the happenings leading up to the events of the film.
It’s a tall order for such a short film, and making a movie even just a few minutes longer can be incredibly expensive. But it can be done. And it might not have been such an issue had the tenor of the film been a little clearer. For a good while, I thought I was watching a comedy. When in actuality, this is a piece which takes itself very seriously. And after rewatching the film several times, I still get the same feeling; like I’m waiting for a big laugh. But what’s weirder is I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
From a technical standpoint, this is a very competently shot movie. The camera work (Ryan Bain) is lovely and the soundtrack (Christopher Belsey), with its residual eerieness, is one the best single elements of the film. And while the production value as a whole hovers around the cheaper end of the scale (which isn’t unusual), Nike Johnston’s makeup work is exemplary.
I know it’s easier said than done, but The Orthodox really would have benefitted from being a little longer. The potential is here, but it falls short of achieving what it could have. There needs to be more work putting into it; a little more time put into setting the scene, or perhaps a more concise narrative. All said and done though; we’re left with a solid homage to the exorcism sub-genre, a decent shot at morally ambiguous storytelling, and a pretty entertaining three-minutes of film. Not bad at all.