Saturday, August 15, 2015

Inner Demons

The reality TV show Intervention has chosen to center an episode around Carson, a sweet girl turned addict of pills, heroin, and just about anything else. What makes her different from other addicts is her insistence that she's possessed and takes drugs to protect others from the demon. Her teary parents eventually convince her to try rehab and she tries to get clean. Then weird things start to happen to and around her. The Intervention people just care that it's good TV except one camera man who believes her. Is Carson possessed or just a sad, drug addicted girl?

I'm not the biggest fan of possession films, but I always give films a chance when I see they are trying something new or interesting. Inner Demons isn't the typical possession film. First, the drug angle is new. Carson was an innocent religious girl who memorized bible verses for fun, then she became a heroin shooting goth girl. This seems fairly typical, but the reason behind it makes it fresh and new. Carson is self aware and doesn't want to hurt her family so she dulls herself with drugs. The drug use can be related both to growing up (as people typically at least experiment) and to the corruption of innocence, both of which are the usual meanings of possession in films. However, the drugs are saving her parents even though they are destroying her own life. She can no longer enter a church, but I interpret that as her rejection of her parents' faith because of the church's inability to help her out of her situation. Although Carson does do the typical demon face and creepy voice stuff, she's actually quite sweet and charismatic for most of the film, which goes with her motivation for doing the drugs in the first place. She deteriorates in rehab when the demon is no longer dulled by drug use. She is shown to be a genuinely nice person who has no support system. The people and organizations set up to support and protect her have all failed.

Carson has quite a few people in her life at the film, but only a few actually have her best interests in mind. The first are her parents who appear to be victims in this whole situation. They enable her behavior and are using this Intervention to put their foot down and stop. More on them later. Second is the camera crew who are mostly horrible people who exploit these drug users at any cost for entertainment and ratings. They even stoop to snooping through Carson's room to make her private diary a juicy part of their show. The only exception to this is brand new camera man Jason who hasn't let the industry completely jade him yet. He follows Carson through her rehab journey, looking out for her. He is the only person truly keeping her best interests in mind and one of the only people who believe her. Carson's school friends, who peer pressured her into participating in their stupid ritual that got her possessed in the first place, abandoned and shunned her.

Other people at the rehab facility attempt to help her, one being a therapist who quickly wants to push her off into a psychiatric facility when she becomes too violent. He doesn't even seem to want to figure out why she is in the state she's in. Another is a devoutly religious nurse who attempts to exorcise her. Before that, she places homemade crosses and other religious icons in Carson's room. The problem with the attempted exorcism is that it was really just another assault that Carson felt she deserved. The nurse mentioned that a past exorcism involving a beating with sticks had worked, but the possessed girl died. It shows how religion doesn't help people in this situation and how their brand of "help" is incredibly destructive.

The reason for Carson's possession becomes clear when the film crew goes back to her house after she was ejected from rehab for drug use. Her father is a raging, violent alcoholic and her mother simply enables him and allows it to happen. They admit that the violence has been present for most of Carson's life. This aspect along with her very religious upbringing reveals her life to be repressive and oppressive. The drug use and demonic possession are really her way of both coping with and railing against her living situation. The ending is horribly sad because Carson simply can't survive in this situation despite the one person who cares about her and doesn't hurt her in some way.

Inner Demons does a good job using tropes of the genre and subverting some of them. I don't like many possession films because they tend to be puritanical and misogynistic in nature, but this one isn't. It's not a perfect film: some of the special effects are lackluster and I don't appreciate jump scares in general. Other than that, I thought it was an entertaining film with interesting things going on within.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins

No comments: