Well … you want to see a more legitimate ‘few days from Hell’ for a wedding?
Well … the best I can do is a few hours from Hell.
The writing and directing team of Madison Hatfield and Jono Mitchell have found an all-new way to blaspheme one of mankind’s oldest institutions with Courtney Gets Possessed (2022), a Horror/Comedy jointly produced by Peach Jam Pictures and RoleCall. Hatfield also stars (indeed, she inhabits one of the film’s principal characters) alongside Lauren Buglioli, Jonathon Pawlowski, Najan Bradley, Zae Jordan, and Aditi George. According to published reports, the bride and groom will first be unveiled digitally to the masses on November 3rd, 2023, but I – in my role as editor-in-chief of SciFiHistory.Net – was offered a backstage invite to the forthcoming ceremony. I’m pleased to report that while I wasn’t completely smitten with the affair it did have its own irrepressible charm, one that might convince audiences that, indeed, true love endures … even in the face of some genuinely demonic obstacles.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“A bumbling wedding party must battle the forces of hell when a bride becomes possessed by the Devil the night before her wedding.”
I’ve often said that comedies have the hardest road to travel from conception to script and, eventually, onto whatever screen they occupy.
So in reviewing comic features, I do try to put myself in shoes of the proverbial everyman and strive to represent what I think works successfully over what has me either clutching my belly in delight or nearly peeing my shorts. I realize that may be a bit different than what society expects, but – above all things – I gotta be me.
That clarification aside, I was genuinely jazzed by the idea at the heart of Courtney Gets Possessed. A budding young bride (rather obviously named) Courtney (played by the hypnotically fetching Lauren Buglioli, so I can appreciate Satan’s predicament) finds that the unfortunate choices in her own affairs of the heart has brought her to a place wherein the Prince Of Darkness himself – Dave (a smarmy Jonathon Pawlowski), a former suitor who bound himself to her – shows up on the night before her marriage to Glen (Zae Jordan) in order to take possession of her mortal soul. Though we learn that she’s actually been running from the Devil using warding spells and the like for a few years now, all of this unrequited passion needs some fantastical release if True Love is to win the day … and things don’t look all that rosy.
So if humor operates successfully on one level of presenting a violation of norms, then Possessed certain fits that bill. Culturally, we’ve been reared to think of weddings as the definitive expression of love, and this exchange of vows is likely the thing farthest away from demonic possession, given the fact that the former involves a willingness while the later requires unquestioned subservience to a supernatural power. This construct serves as the foundation for a good deal of what propels Hatfield and Mitchell’s script; they may not get a lot of mileage out of the elements of Horror – nor always stick to the rules as they’ve predicated them onscreen – but their adherence to a winning formula will likely having no one objecting to this coupling as designed.
Furthermore, Possessed does earn points for giving its comic talent the space needed to build an ensemble.
Buglioli’s Courtney remains a likeable lead even though her character is saddled with the hangups a bit too predictable to failed sister relationships (Hatfield – as the sparing sibling – is a bit miscast). Jordan matches her likeability beat for beat, and he’s even gifted an undercurrent of sexiness to his dark incarnation as Satan (spoilers: Courtney is not the only one to fall victim to the dark lord’s charms). Actor Steven Reddington – as Court’s obnoxiously gay brother Chuck – manages to steal a few scenes while proving he can play nice with the other kids. Still, the standout work – for me, at least – was Aditi George’s masterful turn as ‘Lexi,’ the Maid-Of-Honor who never sacrifices her good, noble, and pure intentions despite the circumstances spiraling out of control all around her, up to and including a bit of ostracization from her fellow bridesmaids. She’s the ‘Dudley Do-Right’ even in the face of demonic adversity, and it’s always worth a wholesome chuckle.
Hollywood and beyond, however, can’t help but continue to push their diversity and inclusion efforts; and Possessed is no different. Conventional relationships are so 1950’s, it would seem, and this one revels in a layer of such social justice do-goodery that, frankly, just didn’t need to be there. While I’ve no qualms with a cast looking more like the bridge crew of the latest Star Trek iteration than they do a wedding party, I’d still have to remind our creatives and cultural betters that not all of America looks, thinks, and behaves like this. It is kinda/sorta sad that the collective push to show every color of the cultural rainbow has a place in the this wide, wide world to the point wherein regular folks feel expendable; but methinks that’s just part of the trend.
Now … who wants cake?
Courtney Gets Possessed (2022) was produced by Peach Jam Productions and RoleCall. According to the publicity materials I was provided, the film will be released digitally for rental and purchase effective Friday, November 3rd. As for the technical specifications? While I’m not trained video expert, I found the sights-and-sounds to this comic feature to be very solid from start-to-finish; unlike other Horror/Comedies, there’s no heavy reliance on special effects – just some modest post-production tinkering with glowing eyes and the like. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features? I was provided streaming access to this one, so there were no special features to consider.
While no wedding is perfect (Harry and Meaghan Markle, here’s looking at you), Courtney Gets Possessed dishes out some relatively lightweight laughs here and there, and – dare I say? – it’s even occasionally infectious. While I thought that the narrative bobbed and weaved a bit more than it needed – and perhaps its script failed to truly stick the landing, much less follow its own internal logic – the ensemble accomplished more as a group than I expected. Comedies work best when they’re light on substance and heavy on sauce, making this engagement worth the RSVP I sent. In the end, love prevails, Courtney gets repossessed (by love), and a good time was had by all … even if it resorts to a bit of traditional schmaltz in the final reel.
Plus … as a man? Can I say that it’s usually not until well after the wedding that a partner’s demonic sensibilities come to light …
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Peach Jam Pictures provided me with complimentary streaming access to Courtney Gets Possessed (2022) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.