In Horror Comedy ‘Ava’s Possessions,’ the Exorcised Undergo Group Counseling


We’ve seen it dozens of times: a snarling victim lashed to a bed, a priest intoning prayers in Latin, a worried family hovering at what they hope is a safe distance. But how often has it come before the opening titles?

Jordan Galland’s Ava’s Possessions begins where most demonic-possession movies end. After a successful exorcism, Ava (Louisa Krause, likable in the role) is left with a life in shambles, a lengthy list of criminal offenses, and a weeks-long gap in her memory. (How did that bloodstain get on her floor?)

That setup kicks off an absurd take on recovery culture rendered with delightful mundanity: Ava has to attend a court-mandated support group for the possessed. “We don’t use the D-word. They’re ‘uninvited spiritual guests,’ ” says the no-nonsense counselor (Wass Stevens) who leads them in exercises like popping balloons with their demons’ — sorry, guests’ — faces drawn on in marker. Ava, meanwhile, has to discover what she did during her time in the thrall of Naphula the Anointed (and make amends to those she wronged, of course).

A concurrent plot involving Ava’s family doesn’t land quite as well, as it travels down some more familiar paths, but the twelve-step satire had me grinning like a fiend.

Ava’s Possessions
Directed by Jordan Galland
Momentum Pictures
Opens March 4, Nitehawk Cinema and Cinema Village