Monday, June 29, 2009

The Exorcist III

In what I’m positive is an accidental bit of bookending, “The Exorcist III” begins with a sunrise, thereby tying it somewhat tangentially to part II.

It’s almost like an apology of sorts: “Sorry for all the foolishness last time out, folks! This time around it’s a whole new movie, and you don’t need to know a thing about part II to enjoy part III. There will be no spitting of leopards this time around. No, sir.”

Over this cleansing sunrise we have a burn-in – “Georgetown 1990.” Yes indeed, folks – we surely are in an Exorcist movie.

A priest-looking fellow walks down the streets, stopping for a short visit by the steps that Damien tumbled down oh-so-many years ago.

Elsewhere, the nice man from homicide – actually, he’s the main character this time around, so it would probably be helpful to tell you his name is Kinderman – sits at his desk, and picks up a picture of himself and Damien. Then he says, “Damien.” In case you were sitting there in your seat going, “What WAS that guy’s name again? I forget…”

Then we’re back at the steps, which are all foggy. Only the fog slips off the stairs, while a little bit of Tubular Bells, the creepy music everyone is assumes is from “The Exorcist” but is actually from a really lengthy instrumental album plays. We get a few shots of Georgetown locales. And then we get a few shots inside a church. It’s dark, and there’s no one there.

The doors blow open and a bunch of… leaves, I guess… blow into the church, and the Jesus who is up on the crucifix opens his eyes.

Next, we get a nice long point-of-view shot. We’re walking down the street at night, and then a nice young black man hands us a rose.

Then “we” are at the top of the infamous stairs, and we fall down them.

Then it’s morning again, and we’re in Vietnam. There are three helicopters hanging in the air against an early-morning sun.

Wait, never mind. The helicopters are nowhere near Vietnam. They’re just flying all over the city, while a motherly-looking black woman is being comforted by someone, and Kinderman is looking under a blanket at something.

Meanwhile, over at the church, the old priest who was looking down the steps at the start of the movie is talking to a young priest. They banter for a bit, and then the young priest mentions that the old priest prayed for Damien that morning. “Wasn’t he the one who…” begins the young priest.

“Fifteen years ago today,” says the old priest.

The young priest leaves, and we get a short little scene where it’s night, and someone, Damien I guess, goes flying out of a window and then falls down the steps that we’ve seen four times since the movie started seven minutes ago.

We get another short scene of the old priest, and we finally get a name to stick on him. Joe. Very solid name. At any rate, he tells another man of the cloth that he’s going to the movies today, and taking Kinderman, who gets depressed every year on this date.

Over the police station, Kinderman is investigating the death of the black kid that “we” saw in what I guess was a dream, only it wasn’t. He talks to a few of his associates, and we learn that a) Kinderman pretty much thinks everyone is an idiot, b) the kid was probably killed with garden shears, and c) that Kinderman wants the file pulled on the Gemini Killer, though his colleagues note that the Gemini Killer has been dead for fifteen years.

Kinderman takes his leave and heads home, where he informs his family members that “Today is my day to cheer up Father Dyer.”

Dyer and Kinderman head to the movies. There is some banter. Then they head to a diner and have a discussion about the nature of God. Kinderman is sort of anti-God, what with the whole thing where there’s cancer and homicide and such.

Dyer is obviously pro-God, stating that everything will work out at the end of time.

Kinderman tells Dyer what he saw that morning. The dead black boy. Ingots had been shoved into his eyes, and his head had been cut off. The boy was also crucified on a pair of rowing oars. In the place of his head was the head from a statue of Christ.

There’s more, but trust me, you don’t really want to know.

Elsewhere, in a confessional booth, a priest we haven’t seen up to this point takes confession from what sounds like a little old lady. She states that she’s filled with guilt over minor sins, and then says she has seventeen things to confess to. The first is a waitress she stabbed in a park. The confessor notes that, “She bled a great deal.”

The priest starts to panic, and then there’s a jumble of shots: A screaming woman, two kids looking on stoically, a puddle of blood, a gore-filled confessional booth.

A bunch of cops start doing their cop thing, and in the middle of it all is Kinderman. He checks out the body under the sheet, and finds that the Father had a finger removed. Recently.

Later, one of Kinderman’s colleagues drops by and lets Kinderman know that they completed the autopsy on the black boy. It seems he didn’t die when he head was cut off. Instead, the killer injected the boy with a drug that causes total paralysis. The boy was unable to move or scream while he was being crucified, and then he died from slow asphyxiation.

So, just in case you were wondering if maybe rest of the stuff happened by accident, now you know for sure that the serial killer in question is really, really evil.

With this information, Kinderman heads to the hospital to visit Father Dyer, who is just there for “some tests.” We get some more banter, and Dyer lights up a cigarette in a hospital. Kinderman and Dyer provide us with even more banter, and then Kinderman leaves.

As he gets on the elevator, the camera zooms in on a statue of Christ with no head. We also get a BIG MUSICAL MOMENT, in case we missed seeing the only thing in the frame.

Kinderman goes back to the cop shop, and everyone tosses out some exposition. It seems the dead priest was paralyzed using the same drug that was used on the black boy. The only thing is, the fingerprints at the crime scene are different than the prints on the oars.

There are two different killers.

Kinderman goes home, goes to bed, and dreams about heaven. Only heaven, such as it is, appears to be a massive train station/hospital. Fabio is there for some reason. As is the headless kid, whose head has been sewn back on.

Did I mention there are angels there, with massive wings? And a band playing old-timey jazz? And Dyer, who has stitches around his neck?

Kinderman wakes up to the sound of his phone ringing. He takes the call, and heads to the hospital.

Father Dyer is dead. Kinderman visits Dyer’s room. The dead Dyer is there, under a sheet. Next to him is a tray covered in neatly stacked cups – they contain all of Dyer’s blood, with not a drop of it spilled.

The only blood not in the cups is on the wall, where the killer has written “It’s a Wonderfull Life.”

No, the double l is not a typo.

More importantly, that’s the movie that Kinderman and Dyer went to see together.

Kinderman questions a nurse in the middle of a busy hallway. Dyer was found dead at 6 AM, and this nurse gave him medication at 5 AM. She only saw one person in the hallway during that time – an elderly, not-all-there patient who the nurse found lying unconscious on the floor.

The patient demands that Kinderman fix her radio. Kinderman, playing along, says he’s the radio repairman, and asks what’s wrong with it. She says that dead people talk through it.

She asks him if he sees the radio, as she holds out her empty arms. Kinderman says he sees it. She informs Kinderman that she’s holding a telephone.

Since he’s clearly not going to learn anything from her, he decides to look elsewhere, eventually arriving at the highly disturbed ward. The one where everyone gets a not-very-well-lit cell. As he’s looking around, he hears someone call his name. He’s looking into the window of a cell when one of his colleagues comes in and says that a doctor is going ballistic.

The camera slooowly pans over into the room Kinderman was looking into while someone recites a poem, and then the person on the cot looks up. It’s Damien, looking significantly less dead than he was looking the last time we saw him.

Kinderman meets with the angry doctor and explains just exactly what is going on. It seems that the Gemini Killer mentioned earlier had a very specific method of operation: He always cut off the index finger of the victim’s right hand. He also carved the Gemini symbol into their left palm.

False information was fed to the press, so the only people who knew about this were a single branch of the police.

Also, in his letters, the killer would write a double-l. As in “Wonderfull.” Which works better on the page than it does when Kinderman tries to explain it out loud and sort of make it sound like his tongue has gone numb.

He also notes that all the names of the people the Gemini killed start with the letter K, and that Dyer’s middle name is Kevin.

Kinderman heads to the autopsy room and takes a peek-see at a bunch of medical instruments, including one that looks like a massive pair of gardening shears. They’re spring activated – a little stiff to open, but they close on their own.

Then Kinderman goes to visit a priest, and as they sit and discus just what, exactly, might be going on. Regan’s name comes up, and then Kinderman notices that the door is open and a breeze is blowing. So he just sort of wanders off while the priest sits there. Not even an “excuse me, father.”

Some lights flicker on and off, and we get a false scare, and then Kinderman goes back to talk to the priest. The priest says that the exorcism might be the connection between the three murders. Dyer was friends with Damien. The other dead priest gave Damien permission to perform the exorcism. And the dead kid’s mom is the one who figured out that Regan’s tape wasn’t gibberish, but rather Regan speaking backward.

Only that wasn’t what happened at all in “The Exorcist.” It was a very, very white guy who told Damien that the English was backward on the tape.

The priest tells Kinderman to go talk to another guy who, it is said, once performed an exorcism in the Philippines. Supposedly it turned his hair white overnight.

Moments later, we’re in a room we’ve never seen before with a white-haired priest. He’s sitting and reading scripture, when he realizes that his room is quiet. Too quiet. So he goes over to look at the bird who lives on his windowsill. The bird is dead.

He turns around, and the crucifix on his wall falls to the floor and begins weeping blood.

Then the room goes dark and the wind picks up.

Back with Kinderman, we get to witness a fingerprint matching up with another fingerprint on a computer screen.

And then we’re back in the hospital, where Kinderman is visiting the semi-catatonic woman with the imaginary broken radio.

He slaps the cuffs on her, declares the case closed, and drags her screaming from the room. She’s going to the chair. The movie comes to a surprising, but somewhat satisfying conclusion.

Well, okay, that’s not really what happens. What happens is Kinderman takes her to Dyer’s room and asks her if she touched the jars in his room. She says her radio is newer.

Now, isn’t my version of the story just that much better?

Kinderman goes to visit the doctor that walked him into the disturbed ward. The doctor tells Kinderman that the man Kinderman looked in on came there fifteen years ago. The cops found him wandering around with no ID, and so the hospital took him in. He slowly became more and more catatonic. Until recently.

First he started getting better. Then he started getting violent, so they began administering shock therapy. Eventually, the man in question started claiming he was the Gemini Killer.

Perhaps shock therapy was not the way to go.

Kinderman goes to visit the dude who looks like Damien, and determines that, whoa, this dude looks like Damien!

He asks to see Damien’s file, which does not mention whether or not the possible Damien had any head trauma, or whether he was dressed like a priest when he came to the hospital.

Kinderman then helpfully provides one of his colleagues and, of course, the audience, with a short refresher on Damien.

Kinderman then goes to talk to Damien, who is very, very chained and straightjacketed. Damien insists that he’s the Gemini Killer, and says that he killed “that little girl” and also “the black boy and the two priests.” He says that he did it “for a friend” but that talking about it is a no-no.

Then he lets out an unearthly growl.

Damien tells Kinderman that Kinderman must tell the papers that the new killing are being performed by the Gemini. That it’s important.

Suddenly, Damien is… not Damien any more. Only it appears Kinderman can’t see this. So Kinderman is seeing Damien while we, the audience, see the Gemini Killer.

The Gemini tells Kinderman that Kinderman must tell people the Gemini is the Gemeni, or that there will be consequences for Kinderman.

Then he sings in a little girl’s voice. Understand, he’s not doing falsetto. He’s actually singing IN HER VOICE. It’s dubbed.

Having finished his song, Gemini goes into a lengthy explanation of how he drained all the blood out of Dyer. He notes that this is showmanship.

Kinderman slaps him across the face.

The Gemini babbles for a bit, passes out, and then we can see Damien again. Kinderman leaves Damien’s room, and the nurse goes in and is VERY unhappy to find that Damien’s nose is broken.

My apologies if the last section was something of a dull read. Seriously, all that happened for the last ten minutes could be summed up as, “Damien says creepy stuff, while Kinderman asks the occasional question.”

I was going to say the movie was devolving into the “My Dinner with Andre” of serial-killer movies, but really, that’s being overly kind. Mostly it was just a lot of babble, with the camera alternating between Damien, Kinderman, and a two-shot with both of them.

The nurse fixes up Kinderman, because the poor guy hurt his hand when he slapped a semi-catatonic patient in the face. Though I guess she can’t report him to the cops, since he is the cops.

Kinderman learns that no one told Damien about Dyer’s murder. He also learns that every time Damien passes out, the way he just did, his brain-wave activity increases.

As Kinderman starts to leave, the nurse says, “Save your servant.” She explains that Damien said that once, and that when he did, his voice sounded, “Kind.” Instead of crazy, I guess.

He also said one other thing in this voice – “Kill it.”

Kinderman goes somewhere where there are a lot of books. Could be the library. Could be the church. Could be the church library. I have no idea.

Kinderman wanders around for a while, then selects a book pretty much at random. He checks the index, flips through it, and finds the words “Save your servant.” What are they from?

Exorcism rites. Naturally.

Kinderman heads home, and we get to hear him reading from scripture. In voice over. Then he daughter takes something from the freezer and tells her father goodnight. It’s just as exciting as it sounds.

At the hospital, the night nurse hears a noise and goes to investigate. Eventually, she determines that it’s the sound of ice cracking in one of the patient’s glasses of water. He sits up suddenly and the audience pretty much just goes ahead and wets their collective pants.

The nurse apologies for waking him up and returns to her post. Then she hears another noise, goes to check it out, doesn’t find anything, turns around, and suddenly a dude dressed all in white carrying those freaky spring-loaded shears walks up behind her. And the audience is glad they didn’t take the time to change their pants after the last scare.

Kinderman shows up, and his esteemed colleague informs him that the nurse’s body was slit down the middle, her vital organs were removed, and replaced with other materials.

The other materials were rosaries.

Suddenly a nurse cries out. The doctor who let Kinderman into the super-crazy ward is now super-dead.

Kinderman goes to talk to Damien, who is, at the moment, the Gemini.

Gemini goes on a whole rant about how he took over Damien’s body as a sort of revenge. He also explains how he jumped into Damien’s body just as Damien was dying. Once he was dead, Gemini broke out of his coffin.

Then he spent fifteen years bringing back Damien’s brain.

He also mentions that he’s not responsible for the dead doctor’s death.

After a whooole lot of ranting, Kinderman finally asks how Gemini gets out of his cell. Gemini says, “Friends. Old friends.”

Then there is some more ranting about Kinderman needing to tell the press about the Gemini.

Kinderman takes the “old friends” idea to heart and goes to check out the room where all the people who have lost touch with reality spend their day. He looks from person to person to person, and completely fails to notice the old lady crawling on the ceiling.

But then again, so does everyone else.

He does notice a puddle of blood running under a door, which he opens. There’s a dead girl behind it.

Moments later, we see a nurse stalk down a hall and enter a room with a young boy in it. It looks like the nurse is going to kill the boy, only at the last moment Kinderman rushes in and flicks on the light, and it’s not the killer nurse. It’s the angry nurse who bandaged Kinderman’s hand.

Kinderman starts to flip out, and calls his wife to tell her… something.

At Kinderman’s house, his wife picks up the phone and has a nice talk with someone who she thinks is Kinderman. Meanwhile, Kinderman is back at the hospital listening to a busy signal.

Not-Kinderman tells Kinderman’s wife that a nurse is coming over with a package. Ah. So that’s where stalky-creepy nurse got off to.

Kinderman races outside and hops in a cop car, and he and his partner race to his house. Only when he gets there, there’s no emergency.

Kinderman goes inside, and there, at his kitchen table, is the nurse. Who is not a nurse, but is instead a catatonic who stole a uniform from the dead nurse back at the hospital. Kinderman lets his guard way, way down, and then he hears the Gemini’s voice emanating from the not-nurse.

The not-nurse produces those freaky not-gardening-shears, and attempts to clip off Kinderman’s daughter’s head.

Kinderman’s mother-in-law pulls his daughter to safety.

Kinderman’s cop buddy gets a beating. The nurse grabs Kinderman by the throat and starts choking him. Then, suddenly, she stops and falls to the floor.

And saaay… remember that priest, with the bleeding crucifix? The guy who had like two scenes? He’s back! He walks onto into the solitary ward where Damien is being kept. The priest is all garbed up and itching for a fight.

Damien says, “Have you come to save God’s servant?” Only he’s got his freaky-voice on, so you know it’s not Damien.

The priest walks in and starts the exorcism ritual, while Damien sits there, all taunt-y and yellow-eyed.

Then he decides to go ahead and put the pedal to the floor. So Damien sets fire to the exorcism book, yanks off the priest’s white robes, pins the priest to the ceiling, and then begins pulling off the priest’s skin. With his MIND.

Kinderman walks into the ward where they keep costs down by keeping the lights off, because the real crazy people don’t mind, and hears Damien being all growly. The door opens up, and Kinderman sees the scorched remains of the exorcism rites book. And the dead body on the floor.

Kinderman pulls out his gun and prepares to shoot Damien.

Damien pins Kinderman to the wall with his MIND. Then Damien says, “Did I help your unbelief?”

Kinderman goes off on a long, long speech about how he believes in… a lot of terrible stuff. Infidelity. Death. That kind of thing.

It starts raining in Damien’s room, and lightning strikes the floor, creating a huge hole. Dead souls peer out of it.

The hole vanishes, and Damien throws Kinderman up onto the ceiling.

The seemingly dead priest, however, is sort of alive, and he picks up a crucifix off the floor and tells Damien to fight.

Damien fights. Which looks, more or less, like Damien is undergoing some severe constipation issues. He yells out, “Nooo!” and Kinderman falls off the ceiling.

Damien yells out, “Bill, now, shoot me now, kill me now!” and Kinderman shoots him.

A pretty dead-looking Damien says, “Bill, free me.” And Kinderman shoots him in the head.

We get a shot of the sunrise, a shot of some preists, and a shot of Kinderman standing over Damein’s grave, and that’s all she wrote.

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