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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: The Assent

Director: Perry Reginald Teo
Screenplay: Perry Reginald Teo
Year: 2020

Possession is an essential genre in horror cinema that every year gives a few titles. The use of possessed or evil kids has proven to be fruitful in horror cinema with classics such as "The Omen" and "Children of the Corn" and that during this past year left titles such as "The Prodigy" and "Eli". The drastic change from an innocent being into a perverse one is the common factor in which all these stories are based on, to which "The Assent" adds on. 

Joel is a young father that after losing his wife starts suffering from schizophrenia. When his son Mason starts to present an unusual behavior, Joel starts suspecting that his son might be suffering from the same condition, while a local priest thinks he might be possessed by a demon. To try and save his son, Joel is forced to discover if the cause of this behavior is because of a psychological illness or a possession, and at the same time, he is not sure if that the visions that haunt him are real or a product of his imagination.

The beginning of "The Assent" is effective in getting the attention of the viewer and promises a good and interesting movie. During the first minutes we get to know Joel (Robert Kazinsky; “Pacific Rim”) and her psychological issues, as well as his tight relationship with his son, is exposed; two things that we understand will be important after the opening montage of a possessed kid. Part of Joel’s psychological issues, which seems to be schizophrenia developed as post-traumatic stress disorder after losing her wife, is presented through interesting visuals that call into question if it’s psychological issues what’s taking place or if it’s something worse. 

In this first stretch of the movie where Joel’s problems and the relationship whit his son are exposed, it has an interesting development and good acting and dialogues. Once his son Mason (Caden Dragomer; “Into the Dark: Pooka!”) starts having an unusual behavior and some new characters are added to the story, everything that has been achieved crashes down. All the mystery that had been developed around if what’s going on is because of schizophrenia or something diabolic suddenly moves towards the latter option, focusing more on presenting unnerving visuals than in the atmosphere and suspense. 

After these new characters are introduced into the story and the focus of the movie changes, it gives the impression of being a completely different one. The acting level acutely drops by the poor interpretations of the new characters and the script of also director Perry Reginald Teo (“The Gene Generation”) becomes clunky and forced, with absurd and even ridiculous dialogues. To make matters worse, the work done to develop Joel’s personality is wasted when he starts to have actions and decisions that go against what’s expected from him. 

“The Assent” has a promising start with an interesting plot and disturbing images, that crashes down about midway of its runtime. It gives the impression that the script was two different ideas badly joined into one movie, creating a disparity between both halves and an ending that tries to be surprising but that can be seen coming from afar. “The Assent” takes a good development and trades it for images and situations that, while they are visually impressive, do not have that shock factor they intended.

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