The Exorcist – One for Sorrow
By: Maggie Stankiewicz
Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) and Mouse (Zuleikha Robinson) are in Belgium, being taunted by the entity that dwells within Sister Dolores (Karin Konoval).
Rose (Li Jun Li) is packing up to retrieve Harper, with intentions of bringing her to Andy’s home in lieu of a state home. This doesn’t mean that Andy (John Cho) is off the hook for failing to meet the group home staffing requirements, but he still has time to fill the shoes his wife left behind after her suicide. Once Rose leaves, Andy has a meeting with his motley crew: Truck (Cyrus Arnold), Grace (Amelie Eve), Verity (Brianna Hildebrand), Shelby (Alex Barima), and Caleb (Hunter Dillon). They are reluctant to welcome a new resident into their home, but Grace holds the most reservations. The negative reaction to the prospect of a new sister puts Andy in a sour mood, but he can’t be in it for too long. Grace has retreated downstairs and is standing in the threshold of the front door in an almost catatonic state. She turns to stare at him, eyes glassy, and mutters the foreboding words that no one familiar with demonic possessions wants to hear, “She shouldn’t be here.” The door slams shut behind her, but an in-denial Andy claims that it was simply the wind.
Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) calls his sister Olivia (Camille Guaty) in a moment of reprieve from exorcisms, only to realize that he had forgotten his nephew’s birthday. Olivia reprimands him for his forgetfulness and then tells him that men from the church came to visit her with questions on his whereabouts. Understanding that the churchmen are not friendly colleagues, Tomas ends the conversation and removes the SIM card from his phone; remaining under the unholy radar. Once back inside, Tomas helps his mentor Marcus (Ben Daniels) dress the wound he acquired from a possessed Cindy – bandage fresh and ready for them to hit the road once more.
Back on Andy’s property Shelby, Andy and a fish and wildlife researcher, Peter (Christopher Cousin), observe the island’s shoreline. They mention the strange incidences involving birds, fish and deformed lambs. The researcher claims it’s no reason for concern, citing jumbled migration patterns and Puget Sound as reasons for the anomalies. He promises Shelby that he would take some samples of the soil to confirm his suspicions, but it’s not enough to quell Shelby’s fear. He is a believer in more than just God.
It’s a happy reunion between Harper (Beatrice Kitsos) and Marcus, who embraces her fondly. Harper, already attached to Marcus and Tomas, had requested to see the men before relocating to Andy’s property. Tomas comments on Harper’s affinity for Marcus, who replies with the understatement of the year, “I’m terribly charming.” Tomas admits his faults in jumping the gun about Harper’s possession, but Marcus insists it’s water under the bridge.
Mouse’s cave in Belgium is bustling with paranormal activity as Dolores jangles her chains. The demon is weakened by Holy Ash. Bennett reveals that Sister Dolores was one of the church’s finest exorcists, though the demon within became fully integrated; courtesy of the church she once served. In an attempt to put her at peace, Bennett begins an exorcism that Mouse quickly puts to an end. She loved Sister Dolores, but needs to keep the demon alive in order to gather more information on the church’s conspiracy. To further support her point, she reminds Bennett that integrated demons cannot be exorcised. Bennett contests her declarations, revealing the truth of Tomas and Marcus’ work – they can and they have exorcised an integrated demon. This information intrigues both “Sister Dolores” and Mouse who had heard rumors about this impossible feat, but had never received any proof. The news prompts a foreboding statement from Mouse that Marcus and Tomas have kicked open a hornet’s nest that they’re not yet prepared to exterminate. Exorcists are being killed, or worse possessed, as evil takes the lead in the never-ending battle between light and dark.
Harper, Marcus, Rose and Tomas arrive on Andy’s island by boat while the rest of the children play. The adolescents play outside while Andy and Grace play tea time inside. Andy tries to coax Grace outside, but she refuses – telekinetically moving the table during her refusal. Rattled, Andy asks if she’s okay. Grace seems to have no memory of the past thirty-seconds. Red flags galore.
As soon as Tomas steps off the boat, a cacophony of sound hits him – a jumble of voices filing his head. Is it cause for alarm or just another shadow cast upon him by his previous battle? The closer they get to Andy and his home the more suspicious Tomas becomes and it looks like he’s not the only one. Marcus and Tomas share a knowing glance. The kids, suspicious in their own rights, watch the priests and describe them to Caleb.
Grace remains inside, sitting on the stairs while the house enclosing her shakes and trembles, windows cracking in the process.
Marcus is making friends with Andy outside when he notices a crow carcass in the garden. Andy explains the bird assault endured by the group home – yet another sign that evil is amuck.
Verity graduates from her prankster status and steps up to comfort an anxious Harper, assessing Andy’s culinary skills and the depth of his “wokeness.”
While the house’s guests venture off into their own little worlds, Tomas explores the home. Grace dons her terrifying bravery mask while she watches Tomas from behind – until Shelby scares her off. They discuss Shelby’s belief in god and he seems to suggest that there is something wrong with the house or its tenants. Tomas acknowledges him and relays the information back to Marcus, who agrees to inspect the land before they move on. His inspection takes him outside where he meets Andy’s researcher friend down by the lake.
Back in Belgium, Sister Dolores convulses at the thought of Jesus loving her, the moans and groans rousing Bennett from his sleep. He awakens and begins to antagonize the demon, though he believes he is trying to help. It might be foolish to hang on to hope, but he will do so anyway. With hope comes mercy and he offers the demon some in the form of a drink of water. After the demon drinks, she tells Bennett that “she” is coming for Father Marcus and Tomas (“…the lion and the cub”). While he’s distracted by this news, the demon uses its strength to break the Holy Ash barrier and assault Bennett, who must be saved by Mouse.
Mouse admits that she had been trying to teach Bennett a lesson in mingling with demons: don’t get too close. Bennett is not pleased with her eavesdropping or mentoring, but he still responds when she asks about the lion and the cub. When he decodes the cryptic expression by considering Marcus Keane as the lion, Mouse is immediately invested. Mouse then mentions the group who orchestrated the attack on the Pope and suggests they attempt to capture one of the more powerful demons within the church. If they can capture a higher-ranked demon, they can find more information on the church’s plans to eradicate exorcists from the holy line.
Marcus and Peter exchange stories and flirtatious smiles. Inside the house, Tomas begins to pack up his belongings, but not without first being summoned upstairs by Andy for Harper’s induction ceremony – hand painting the hallway. Harper dips her hand in blood-red paint and presses her palm on the wall, making her mark on the home. This moment would be so incredibly sweet, if it weren’t for Tomas recognizing the handprints as those from his demon-induced dreams.
Andy and Rose watch from the hallway as Verity steps up once again, doing her part to make Harper feel validated and welcome. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones doing some watching. Grace leers from the shadows, seemingly unhappy with Andy and Rose’s closeness.
Rose stirs in her sleep as her subconscious suggests another presence in the room. In a half-conscious daze she calls out within the rooms, asking if Andy had made his way inside. The camera pans to the silhouette of a man who is most definitely not Andy, let alone human. His opaque form looms over Rose, staring at her under a blanket of darkness. This is the exact moment audiences nearly peed themselves. The shadow man vibrates in place for a moment before contorting his body, bending down to grip the bed. He slinks and slithers up the mattress, shoulder blades protruding while Rose frantically searches for a light. Flipping on the flashlight function on her phone, the shadow man dissipates. Rose is awake now, terrified, and gets out of bed. She steps in thick black liquid, but can’t worry too much about it – Harper is screaming from her bedroom.
Andy and Rose go running to her side and comfort her until she is able to rest. They reconvene downstairs where Rose briefly talks about her “nightmare.” She is still obviously shaken, but they distract themselves with memories of what could have been, their potential love that fizzled before it could become a flame. The conversation is all the kindling they need and they embrace with chocolate in hand.
Tomas is haunted by the handprints in Andy’s house, questioning God’s hand in their involvement with the family. Marcus isn’t sure, but what he does know is that God hasn’t been speaking to him. He is as empty as the pint he just drained. The lion’s motivation and hope are abandoning him. Was Tomas sent not to assist Marcus, but to replace him? Whatever the reason, the men know they need to help the family. Tomas believes in God and Marcus believe in Marcus.
In what seems to be a tremendous breakthrough for Andy and Grace, she asks to go outside with him. Cradled in his arms, they venture out into the yard. Andy sets Grace down and allows her to observe the outside world on her own. After some trepidation, she walks ahead on her own. Verity arrives home looking for Andy, who is still outside playing with Grace. As she ambles through the home, she spots Andy outside, laughing and talking to Grace – who is not replying. Verity’s face loses all color, etched with concern.
Grace and Andy have come back inside where he leads her to her bedroom for a nap. A day full of such progress means she is due for some well-earned rest. Andy tucks Grace in. Verity stands at the bottom of the stairs that lead to Grace’s room, looking up the corridor – but retreats into her room when Andy re-enters the common area.
Once Andy is out of sight, Verity ascends the stairs case and enters Grace’s room. As the door creaks open, the music crescendos. Grace’s room is dark, dank, uninhabitable and uninhabited. Abandoned canvases fade in the sun, dust floats for the stray sun beams and food rots on the floor. There is no sign of life, with the exception of maggots crawling within moldy sandwich bread. Verity looks around and whispers, “Is somebody in here?”
No, not somebody. Something.