Exeter (2015)

ExeterStarring Stephen Lang, Brittany Curran, Kelly Blatz

Directed by Marcus Nispel


Marcus Nispel is truly a director who has been firmly waffled by the open-handed palm of disrespect over the course of the past 12 years, especially when it came to his remakes of both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in 2003, and the Friday the 13th reboot in 2009 (both of which I loved). Does the act of taking on a remake instantly vilify you to the masses, a la Rob Zombie with his Halloween “re-imagining?”

Upon seeing Mr. Nispel’s name attached to Exeter (formerly Backmask), I immediately fired this one up to hope for the best, and while not a remake, I have a feeling that once again, the man who breathed new life into Leatherface and Jason would manage to find himself on the defensive. Let’s jump into this one with both feet and hope that someone bothered to fill up the pool, shall we?

Rundown asylum? It’s in there. Douchey, oversexed, chemically-enhanced teenagers bored to tears and looking for some trouble? They’re in there as well. Priest withholding a dark secret that could potentially serve as a back breaker of sorts to the structure of the film? Yep, got that too. Now don’t go looking all cross-eyed at your computer screen saying, “Oh jeez, here we go!” – this is a film with an overused premise, that I’ll give you, but it’s what’s lurking inside that will save it… possibly. From the film’s opening scene of a nearly-nude female form and its eventual unfortunate occurrence, we can tell right off the bat that Nispel wanted to grab us by the throat and inform us to get ready for some widespread vehemence.

When the opportunity arises to throw a colossal bash with a group of friends at the site of a fire-damaged asylum that he’s been working to restore with fellow parishioners, lead man Patrick (Blatz) reluctantly agrees to do so knowing that if Father Conway (Lang) finds out, there will be hell to pay (pun intended). So against his better judgment, the fiesta is in full swing, and the next morning, while a few stragglers are beginning to crawl out from their benders, a seemingly harmless game is played, and Patrick’s younger, more annoying tag-along brother becomes possessed.

Now that the shit has indeed flung into the fan full-speed, the race is on to get help for our little stoner and clean up any trace of ill-doings at the decrepit former house of the frenzied – only problem is that the possession doesn’t stop with the currently bedeviled – it’s moving throughout the remainder of partygoers at a rapid pace.  My thoughts immediately raced to the Evil Dead remake a few years ago when it came to the actions of the nearly deceased. Mannerisms and relentless aggression are mirror-images, and the only way to put one of these crazed fiends down is to dispense some serious punishment upon them, and this is where we have gore-a-splashin! The remainder of the film acts as a cat and mouse chase between the shrieking hellions and our dynamic duo of Blatz and Curran, whose reputation as the new girl at the party seems to have omitted the description of “mysterious newbie with ass-kicking ability.” Lang, however, looked lost somewhat in his role as the silently veiled Father Conway, and the movie seemed to have been split into two parts, with the first giving off a feel of a mystery hidden inside a structure with a very large story to tell, and the second half falling into the “kill everything that moves” phase.

Nispel does a very good job, however, meshing these two pieces together into a fun watch that is recommended for those who don’t want or need to plug into their brainpans for the evening – simply settle into your chair and enjoy a little pure, unadulterated gore… make that a LOT of unadulterated gore. Exeter has the goods to keep the hounds at bay for a night or two.

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Matt Boiselle

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