Just when you thought you’ve seen the end of the possession film craze, another one comes out of nowhere. A lot of these supernatural films have been hit or miss lately, but fortunately Chris Sparling’s The Atticus Institute turned out to be rather entertaining.
Told through a series of interviews, still photos, and archival footage, The Atticus Institute tells the story of a group of professionals who are studying the case of Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt), a woman who is possessed by an unknown entity. When things get out of hand for the small group of specialists, they call in government officials to help solve the curious case. This proves to be a terrible mistake as the government wants to harness this evil and use it as a weapon for themselves.
The Atticus Institute is being promoted as a film about the one and only case of demonic possession that is recognized by the US government. The funny thing is I actually believed that this was true. It isn’t the first time a filmmaker has tried passing their film off as something it isn’t (see The Fourth Kind), but it is certainly a new and exciting way to approach a horror film about exorcism and possession. I really liked the mock interviews that made up the core of this story because it made it feel so much more conceivable. Each actor did extremely well in making me believe this was in fact a real case!
This film does a decent job of making itself stand out from other possession films in a number of ways. Writer and director Chris Sparling was able to create a story with very believable characters and places. The entire experience is very engaging actually, but I felt myself losing interest as the film strayed away from its parapsychology beginning and focused more on the government officials taking things over. Once talk began of harnessing the power of Judith’s demonic captor to use as a military weapon, a line had been crossed in my mind and the film lost some momentum. Still, overall Atticus was a nice surprise in a genre that is full of so many disappointments.
The Atticus Institute contains great acting, innovative storytelling, and an impressive ability to make its viewers think the entire thing is a true story. I think it is most certainly worth a watch and recommend it for anyone interested in films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose or The Rite. You can pick up a copy of The Atticus Institute on DVD and Blu-ray or watch it On Demand from Anchor Bay Entertainment today.
I give this film 3 exploding hearts out of 5.