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USA, the rural Midwest, you know the place, where everything is simpler
but good, where clear distinctions are made between good and evil and no
grey areas are accepted are allowed, where people are so God-fearing they consider
nudity a sin but at the same time think carrying guns around is a good
thing, essential even, and
where Christian faith and family will save you from all evil -
unfortunately, this place is presented totally unironically as heaven on
earth in this film.
But since a film can't work without a little drama, we are
introduced to Sam (Bryan Massey), an ex-pastor who has lost his faith
after his wife (Stephanie Young) has died and who has broken off contact
to his dad (Ben Hall), also a pastor, too.
Enter Laura (Laura Spencer),
the estranged sister of Sam's wife, who has come out of nowhere to stay
with him. Laura's hippie believes (she thinks owning guns is a bad thing
and follows some new age religion) are in stark contrast to what's
accepted locally, and the fact that she once worked as a stripper pretty
much brands her as evil, but still she and Sam get pretty close pretty
But there is a terrible secret in Sam's past: 25 years ago, when
he was stealing sex magazines (shocker!) from some shack in the woods with a friend,
they encountered a demon (evil porn mags then, right?), and now that Laura
has arrived, the symbols of the demon are back. This totally makes sense
in the context of the film of course, because Laura wants to seduce Sam
even though they are not married, so she has to be possessed by a demon
(unpossessed women just wouldn't do such things, right?).
But there is a
solution for all of this: Sam has to find his faith again, get back
together with his estranged father, and then the two of them exorcise the
demon with the power of prayer and bible reading - and once the demon is
gone, Laura has become a better woman ...
faith-based horror flick, but not for the message it transports but the
way it transports it: The whole film is so incredibly blunt it almost
hurts, and it also tries to make its points without ever even trying to
second-guess them, they are just there - God is good, the demon is bad
(though it never does anything but trying to seduce Sam), carrying guns
with you is the best thing ever, and nudity is the source of all evil (and
let's not even start to talk about sex here). This all would only be half
as hard to swallow is it was packaged in a tense and suspenseful film, but
there is no supense in The Familiar, it's deliberately slow-moving
to the point of boring its audience to death, tells its very simplistic
and pulpy story in a way as if it had something profound to say, and
culminates in one of the most boring showdowns in horror history. That the
whole thing is also very unimaginatively directed and the cast is at best
competent (only Laura Spencer is at least making an effort) doesn't help
much either of course.
Better stay away from this stinker!!!