Starring Robert Miano, Bai Ling, Lance Henriksen
Written by Robert Rhine, Daniel Benton
Directed by Chad Ferrin
Horror comedies can be a tricky bag. The fine line between combining the fear and the funny can be a thin one and films playing within that sandbox can end up being one of two things. If you’re Shaun of the Dead or Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, you take the absurdity of a scary situation and write heartfelt humor around it. The other direction, falling well within the parody box, takes away all traces of fear and fright and instead opts for cliches and silliness. Unfortunately, Chad Ferrin’s Exorcism at 60,000 Feet falls into the latter, opting for tired gags and stereotypes and giving horror fans nothing we haven’t seen before.
Right from the get-go, Exorcism at 60,000 Feet tells its audience that they’re more in line to see something similar to The Naked Gun than say, The Final Girls. While that works for some movies, the Girls and Corpses-produced film feels more like a live-action version of the magazine, with an overtly sexual and offensive approach that again, might work for some, but in 2020, it just seems somewhat tired.
While films like Full Moon’s Corona Zombies (eesh) might be at the forefront of bad taste, Exorcism at 60,000 Feet isn’t far behind. Seeing the film’s cursing and smoking priest trying to take a flight from Point A to Point B, the film quickly focuses on the passengers on flight 665, filled to the brim with every poorly thought-out stereotype around. We get passengers giving the airline’s Muslim characters side-eyes, suspecting them of being terrorists, a woman showing off her glowing vagina to the priest and the entire crew. A cheating husband whose vegan wife comes off annoying and preachy. The characters in this film are written like a bad knockoff of Mad Magazine and the humor comes off childish and without any sense of irony of situation-based humor. What we do get, is a nonstop barrage of low-brow jokes that seems to revel in pissing quite literally everybody off and there’s an attitude to the film that seems to think “Hey, if we poke fun at every type of person, maybe it won’t come off insensitive or like we’re punching down!” The issue is, that though there are moments of wit and good jokes, those moments are so few and far between, that as a viewer, you find yourself wondering if Adrienne Barbeau, Lance Henriksen and other genre favorites just needed to make an extra bill payment, so they took throwaway parts in it. Night of the Comet’s Kelli Maroney seems like an odd fit to play the mother of a small person who still breastfeeds, while also having Tourette’s syndrome, leading to some of the film’s most tasteless sequences.
The worst part of Exorcism at 60,000 Feet doesn’t lie within those stereotypes; there will always be films catering to those who just love to offend and make fun of others, that’s a given. The worst part is that a lot of the people behind the scenes are capable of so much more. Ferrin’s 2016 film Parasites was such a great film focusing on real topics that needed to be addressed. That film showed how great of a story Ferrin could tell with his knack for directing tension. Exorcism at 60,000 Feet just feels like a real step down from those relevant and important films Ferrin is great at making. Richard Band’s score is fun when it’s not overshadowed by a bad cover of 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny,” or a second-hand store take on The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”
Low brow comedy has its place and Exorcism at 60,000 Feet might land for some, but if you’re looking for anything aside from a film that you’ll have to slam a 12 pack to yourself just to get through, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s a bummer, because the people involved are great filmmakers, let’s just hope they swing for the fences next time around, instead of purposely hitting a foul ball into the face of their viewers.
Low brow comedy has its place and Exorcism at 60,000 Feet might land for some, but if you’re looking for anything aside from a film that you’ll have to slam a 12 pack to yourself just to get through, you might want to look elsewhere.