Atticus Institute, The (Blu-ray / DVD)


Atticus InstituteStarring Rya Kihlstedt, William Mapother, John Rubinstein, Sharon Maughan

Directed by Chris Sparling

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment

There’s an old saying… The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the case of The Atticus Institute, it should be changed to… The road to hell is paved with good ideas. Here’s a movie that has so many good ideas in it that it ends up bogging itself down in the home stretch. Before we get to that, though, here’s a quick plot crunch.

The Atticus Institute is a faux documentary about the only government-confirmed case of demonic possession in the United States. Of course it’s all fictitious, but just like Sci-Fi (not Syfy) Channel’s special “The Curse of the Blair Witch” back in the day, it does a great job of showing footage from the case that was “taken in the Seventies” and filling it with testimonies of the people who conducted the experiments and all the witnesses who were onsite.

The film tells the story of a small psychology lab in Pennsylvania that encounters a subject the likes of which they’ve never seen before, a young woman named Judith Winstead (Kihlstedt in a truly stand-out performance) who displays unmatched psychic abilities that can manipulate objects, animals, and people. Of course, unbeknownst to our researchers, it’s not Judith who has the powers, it’s the demon inside of her. Things get out of control, and it’s not long before the government is called in to help investigate the dark matters.

The first half of The Atticus Institute is pretty amazing and, truth be told, quite chilling. Chris Sparling shows a deft hand with the camera and knows how to make even the smallest of shots pop big. The scares range from subtle to holy shit, and Kihlstedt absolutely nails it. This woman can do frightening with just a simple glance, and as a result I was instantly captivated by the flick.

Then it happens… the government people show up, and Judith ends up strapped to a chair for the rest of the movie along with the scares, both subtle and otherwise, and tension created by the film’s opening hour. Some cool things and ideas transpire in the third act, but ultimately it probably looked better on the page than it does on the screen. In the end, despite all it had going for it, The Atticus Institute winds up just barely clearing the above average side of the fence. It was like watching a balloon deflate.

In terms of special features we have a ten-minute “making of” and a few deleted scenes but not much else.

The Atticus Institute is still worth a look for those of you in search of some quick chills. If only said chills could have kept us shivering for the duration. Still… Mr. Sparling, you have our attention. We’re eager to see what you churn out next.

Special Features

  • Making of featurette
  • Deleted scenes

  • Film
  • Special Features
User Rating 3 (13 votes)


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