I'm always fascinated by a movie that starts off with the use of a Bible verse. Sometimes it's just a dramatic way to kick things off and means nothing more than that. Other times, the filmmaker is alluding to a message we'll be exploring for the next couple of hours or so. As a Christian, I like when that happens. Lionsgate's newest indie horror film "The Appearing" really surprised and impressed me using this approach.
After the death of their daughter, Rachel (Emily Brooks)and Michael (Will Wallace) move to a small town to forget the past and start over. Shortly after they arrive, Rachel begins seeing disturbing visions that seem linked to an old abandoned house. It's the very same location of several disappearances over the years. As Michael digs deeper into the vanishings, he discovers there might be a more sinister power at work.
"The Appearing" works because it isn't just a possession film. We get plenty of those every year already. It's successful at holding your attention because it blends the aspects of movies like "The Exorcist" with ingredients from supernatural thrillers and mysteries with surprise twists in the end.
Lead actor Emily Brooks does an adequate job of portraying the schizophrenic and seemingly bi-polar Rachel. What she lacks in one area she more than makes up for when she lets her hair down and gets demented for the camera. "The Appearing" also stars Patrick Swayze's brother, Don. He puts in a heartfelt effort as the God-fearing Sheriff Hendricks. Dean Cain plays a doctor who believes everything can be explained away by science.
Extra points are awarded to "The Appearing" because of the religious and Biblical angle it comes to the table with. The people that are possessed in the movie aren't just innocent bystanders. Each one harbored some sort of deep-seeded anger or other negative emotion that acted as a doorway for the demonic force to let itself in. The film serves as a reminder to everyone that we're all capable of committing heinous acts. It's only through faith and self-control that we can overcome temptation and wrong-doing.
"The Appearing" is rated R for bloody horror violence. However, it includes language and adult situations as well. It's not a movie you'll probably want to use as a study tool for your youth group. Just because it promotes Christian themes doesn't mean it's appropriate for all ages.
The DVD version of "The Appearing" has a couple of special features. "Making 'The Appearing'" goes behind the scenes of the movie and includes interviews with the cast and crew. They all comment on how great it was to shoot at the actual "Psycho" house from the classic Alfred Hitchcock film. There's also a trailer gallery included.
For those looking for a movie that reaches out past the boundaries of most demonic possession films, "The Appearing" adds the spices you can find in supernatural outings and crime thrillers. While it's not perfect, enough effort was put into creating the movie to warrant a viewing by any fan of multiple horror sub-genres. It also provides some food for thought in a spiritual sense, which is never a bad thing.