The Atticus Institute
Releases January 20th, 2015 (DVD, Blu-Ray, VOD)
1 hr 22 mins
Director: Chris Sparling
William Mapother as Henry West
Rya Kihlstedt as Judith Winstead
John Rubinstein as Marcus Wheeler
Harry Groener as Lawrence Henault
Anne Betancourt as Joanee Breault
Jake Carpenter as Norman LeClair
Brian Chenoweth as Father Donnelly
Suzanne Jamieson as Cathleen West-Tremello
Sharon Maughan as Susan Gorman
Gerald McCullouch as Steven West
Lauren Rubin as Claire
Bill J. Stevens as John Pruitt
Franklin Dennis Jones as Robert Koepp
Review by Stephen M.
The Atticus Institute is filmed in the documentary format, billed as the only recognized demonic possession by the United States government. The individual that is possessed is Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt), as unassuming a woman as can be, carried a dark evil within her. In charge of the Institute that monitored and tested individuals for psychic abilities is Dr. Henry West (William Mapother). When the institute realizes they are in over their heads, they bring in the Defense department and that's when things get interesting.
What the Director does really well in the film is build up suspense. This is supported greatly by the superb acting of Rya Kihlstedt as Judith despite the lack of dialogue from her character. The previously recorded segments of the Institute with the props, set designs and costumes of that time period all plays well to an era famous for horror films like The Omen and The Exorcist. The idea the movie presents of the military trying to weaponize something as wild, dark and unknown as what lies in Judith is compelling.
While the film is full of suspense, what it lacks for a horror film is a great scare. Especially with all the buildup throughout the entire film and with the military essentially poking and prodding the "demon." You would expect a much more gruesome and terrifying ending. It's not to say that the film doesn't end with a bang or have its moments throughout the film. The ending just does not meet the expectations of the great build up especially of Dr. Henry West with all the interviews with his family and colleagues. The logic of the ending also is questionable even when you are factoring that the subject is something that defies our understanding of what is possible.
Overall, I would recommend this to any fans of horror. The movie, despite not delivering the big scare you would hope for from this type of film, does enough right to warrant you watching the film. Fans of The Exorcist and perhaps even X-Files would enjoy this film. If you're expecting pea vomits and blood everywhere, then you would be sorely disappointed. While the body count doesn't stack up, the film does hold up well enough against films in its genre.