April 30, 2020 Exorcism at 60,000 Feet (Movie Review)
The title says it all: Exorcism at 60,000 Feet. If it were not about an exorcism on an airplane, it would be about a possessed Mothra. Making its film festival debut at the 2019 Hollywood Horrorfest in August, where it won Best actor for lead Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco 1997, Loser 2000) and Best Comedy Actress for Bai Ling (The Crow 1994, Crank 2: High Voltage 2009), now Exorcism at 60,000 Feet will be coming to DVD, Blu-Ray, VOD and digital platforms on May 5th, 2020 thanks to Shout Factory.
Directed by Chad Ferrin (The Ghouls 2003, Parasites 2016) and written by Daniel Benton (Police Woman series) as well as Robert Rhine (Dracula in a Women’s Prison 2017, Cynthia 2018), the film is about an exorcism on an airplane at 60,000 feet. Or rather, a series of exorcisms. A transatlantic airliner is making its last flight, and all seems well until Garvan (Bill Moseley: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 1986, House of 1,000 Corpses 2003)- the spirit of a Vietnam vet- possesses the passengers. It is up to his former army buddy Father Romero (Miano), Rabbi Feldman (Rhine), Captain Howdee (Lance Henriksen: Aliens 1986, Hard Target 1993) and the rest of the airline crew to help fend them off.
That is quite a cast of cult favorites. Even Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog 1980, Escape from New York 1981) turns up as a not-so-dog-friendly passenger. It could be a bundle of fun. Or it could be just silly. So, how is it exactly?
Well, the camera work is quite nice. There are bright colors, but the use of lighting keeps it from looking too neon. It keeps the film looking moody while having that light-hearted edge. The shots are solid for the most part too, as are the special effects. Mostly. There is some cheapness on display. Sometimes it looks intentional (nice ‘melting’ scene), and other times it might not be (nice blur on the possessed guy). Though overall, the effects are indeed effective. They look to be mostly practical too, bar the exterior plane shots and some glowing eyes here and there.
Still, one does not watch a comedy film to admire the mise-en-scène. Is it funny? The story is there, but like Airplane, it is more like the connecting tissue that holds a bunch of skits and references together. The intro spoofs 1973’s The Exorcist, the musical motifs hint back to Airplane, and there are a few references to other sources like the ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ episode of The Twilight Zone. Only the gremlin-beholder is a kid played by Sammy the Dwarf (College Humor Originals series, Bleeding Steel 2017).
It is crasser and dumber than the films it spoofs, with some gross gags that will not hit the mark with everyone. One might be up for seeing a guy accidentally nosh on a used tampon, or a guy learning the hard way why one does not cheat (“I’m cumming and I’m dying!”). It will just make it a hard sell for others. Something for the teenagers and college kids. That said, there are some genuinely good horror-comedy laughs here. There are some good chuckle-worthy quips, some bad taste gags that are actually funny, and some good performances. Notably Father Romero recounting his backstory to the Rabbi and some eavesdropping nuns.
It helps that Miano really makes Father Romero work out with his performance. His shifts from being serious to quipping and back really works on-screen, feeling natural and funny. Ling’s character is the Goofus to Miano’s Gallant by contrast, being more outwardly wacky as she tries to hold everything together. She raises an orange flag, yet her expressions and appearances make her one of the best parts of the film. Kudos also go to her onscreen partner-in-flight Matthew Moy (Steven Universe series, Lucky 2019), and Moseley being Moseley. Oh, and Rhine’s Rabbi has some nice laconic responses in there too.
So, how good is Exorcism at 60,000 Feet? To get it out of the way, it is no Airplane-beater, but few films are. The film’s sense of humor is too dumb to get that far. Yet, it does have some genuine wit and visual gags behind it, and some good performances keeping them afloat. Additionally it features a cast of actors/actresses many genre fans love, including all those mentioned, along with genre favorite Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet 1984, Chopping Mall 1986) as Ms. Jenkins.
Still, Exorcism at 60,000 Feet is recommended for teens and those simply teens-at-heart. It may even beat 2000’s Scary Movie in that regard. With everything considered, Cryptic Rock give this fun film 3.5 out of 5 stars.