Possession and hauntings are a bit hard to swallow when the most prolific exorcist of all had a hatred for Harry Potter and thought yoga was the stretches of the devil. Throw away your Wii Fit board, rally in the streets. Personal trainers? Possessed gym staff hoping to grasp your soul and throw it down into the well of sin, more like. Nefarious has neither the charm nor Hollywood flair of The Pope’s Exorcist, nor does it have the grounding of accuracy. Much of the inaccuracies come not from the suspension of disbelief but from exorcisms being used as a mouthpiece for mundane and hateful prattlings. When a film is based off of such text, how can the feature not feel in step with its own sins? Nefarious is a contemptible piece, but beyond that, it is not a well-made movie. It misses the point of its own end.
Confidence is key in the face of independent filmmaking and while there is certainly an assured approach from Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, their efforts are somewhat wasteful. Intervention of spirit and the actions of those possessed are hard to take seriously, its opening moment makes sure the belief is thoroughly rattled without much rhyme or reason. Jordan Belfi and Sean Patrick Flanery have all the back-and-forth drama of requesting a refund without a receipt. One is clearly in the right and despite the ongoing pressure of the other party, there is little to no element Solomon and Konzelman can throw at the viewer to make them, at any moment, believe there is a third way out or a reason to the other side of the debate. Such is the case of adapting Steve Deace.
Welcomed into the “least happy place on earth,” is one way to introduce Death Row. There are places with less happiness. Durham, for instance. Even then at least the northeast does not have a tiring Flanery performance, his blinking demon caricature is a dreadfully absent performance alongside an equally squeaky-clean Belfi. Neither are interesting or entertaining, failing to bring life to the back-and-forth of an interview style which Mindhunter perfected between prisoner and professional. Can a bloke get off of Death Row by providing evidence of possession? The answer is lost to a dreadful surge of expectant and clumsy mysteries which clunk into place when the plot runs out of places to run. With no distance left by the time its bitter end comes, not together, but presents itself, it is hard to care for the story bled through Nefarious.
Inconsistent, delightfully cheap and a snooze of a viewing comes through Nefarious. Regardless of its deeply-rooted Christian merits, there is a sense of thorough belief and a lack of ambiguity which guides the horrors of exorcisms. Instead, Nefarious is disgustingly keen to show off its brutal executions, its fascination with this scene a strange one but one of the few moments where Solomon and Konzelman have a chance to show their worth as directors. Instead, they tilt their camera, and stick it above the prisoner, it never comes to an emotional punch as it does in the likes of The Green Mile because the emotional build-up has been placed in the hands of the wrong characters. Even without emotion, which Nefarious is, there is not a semblance of faith or interest in detailing or tearing down the religious terrors which are ripe for the big-screen picking.