Exhumed is a hard film to nail down. The acting seems off and stilted, with only one of the characters coming across as natural, at least the first time, before you realize what’s going on. But, even on a second viewing it’s hard to warm up to it. The film feels like a throwback to earlier horror films in the psychological horror genre, but at the same time, has a lot of modern ideas working with it. There’s a lot to like, but there are also some things that make Exhumed hard to recommend for everyone. I will say, though, that many horror fans will appreciate some of the nostalgic ideas it brings.
Exhumed is about a family of sorts, not all of them related, living in a large house that they seem to be stuck inside of for some reason. They take in a new person as a renter, and then things start to snowball from there as each of the strange family members begin undermining each other, and go after the newcomer. Exhumed tackles this idea of psychological horror in a similar way that we saw in the films of the ‘60s, where you aren’t really sure of what you’re seeing on screen, and what’s really going on versus what isn’t. A lot of that has to do with the actors and their portrayals of their characters, which fit the situation and who they’re playing, but can seem a bit off until it’s all put together later on. The one that stands out to me as the most natural is Evalina Marie who plays Rocki, a somewhat flamboyant character who is friends with the childlike Laura, portrayed by Sarah Nicklin. Rocki feels the most normal of the group, but definitely has some hang-ups. The other big stand out was the Butler, played by Michael Thurber, who dominates pretty much any scene he’s in.
One familiar face is Debbie Rochon, who’s been in films back as far as 1982. She plays the Governess but is definitely not a character very many can relate to. Hers is probably the most stilted performance for a character that thinks she’s of much more importance in her own mind. It fits the character, but can be really jarring at points.
Overall Exhumed is shot more like those ‘60s horror films, to the point where they even went to using some of the same methods to portray blood in black and white. I think my only complaint would be the sound for some of the scenes, as it rebounds off the walls of where they were filming. It adds to it, but on my sound bar it can get a little weird. The thing that really sold me with this one, though, was the music. Throughout the film it sets the tone with some really creepy and well-timed uses to go along with what you’re seeing. For me that was as just as big a part of the experience of the film as the visuals and actors. With so many films using music as a throwaway, it was refreshing to really see it set a tone for the film.
While Exhumed does do some neat, new tricks using older storytelling devices, it actually took me two viewings to nail down what was going on, and even then it’s a theory and not a definite. And I’m not telling. If you like your horror to mess with your head, or the character’s heads, then Exhumed will be right up your alley. If you’re looking for over the top and gruesome, this isn’t it.
Exhumed (2011) was released on DVD by Wild Eye Releasing on June 18th, 2013. It was directed by Richard Griffin and written by Guy Benoit. The film is 93 minutes in length, and is not rated. Cinefessions was provided a DVD copy of the film for review from Wild Eye Releasing.