Also known as The Sunderland Experiment, Exile (Sean Blau, Adam Petke) is a decently obscure horror/scifi/wtf-fest about a rebellious teen who tries to join a strange society that’s responsible for his mother’s death. That’s how IMDB describes it and I’m sorry that just does not do this movie justice. I can’t even think of a way to describe this particular film but if I had to consolidate it to a blurb I guess it would read something like this:
“A teen boy who lives in a derelict desert-commune-cult that worships an entity they call “the Angel” has a change of faith after an alien saves his life”
So basically this kid Mark (Jonathan Brophy) and his best friend David (Dylan O’brien) live in the middle of the desert in some shanty town scifi cult that worships an angel that supposedly came down to Earth two generations before theirs. All the adults in the town have this weird but cool robotic-ish filter on their voices and are one with the Angel and seemingly controlled by it, enforcing it’s laws (dont steal, dont assault, dont bring outsiders into the town). The kids all live their lives not unsimmilar to Gummo (Harmony Korine, 1997). The boys go to school to study how to become “blessed” and must pass an exam that challenges their dedication to the Angel. Those who fail are “fallen” and are immediately exiled out of the community. Mark and David have always planned to fall together and live free from the constraints of the Angel but after she saves Mark’s life, he begins his journey towards ascension and is determined to receive a blessing.
Let me start off with a warning. The acting in this movie is terrible. Just godawful. The only character that I didn’t find completely atrocious was the voice actor of the Angel (Dennice Cisneros). Every other actor is so forced and unnatural you would think it were their first movie role ever (and for a lot of them it actually was–I’m talking “not even a profile pic on their IMDB” level). And before you start wringing out your panties, this is not the same Dylan O’brien (Teen Wolf, The Maze Runner) that we all know, love, and jerk it to. It’s someone else who must forever live in the shadow of the true Dylan O’brien. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s move on.
THE PLOT LINE IS AMAZING! And if you didn’t quite understand that let me spell it out for you. This movie’s storyline is so original and unique and genre bending that it almost forgives the truly appalling performances of the actors (almost). Part horror, part scifi, part cult film, Exile blends elements from each into an ominous, unrelenting tone throughout the movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie quite like this. At first it seems exactly how my brief synopsis above plays out, but after a while it becomes something all the more jaw-dropping as the kids parents begin vomiting massive amounts of blood and physically decomposing (no literally, one of the dads’ jaw falls off his face); and that’s neglecting the entire second half of the film. The movie starts showing its true art form during Mark’s test to the Angel. It’s some seriously creepy shit (I’m talking a full blown alien rape scene–like imagine the toothy monster in the pic below around your junk; it’s shocking). He is hesistant about joining with the Angel because of the death of his mother but also intrigued and anxious to stay true to his convictions while simultaneously getting a good look at the creature and she is far from pretty (tentacles–nuff said). These scenes are what make the movie worth watching.
Overall I would definitely recommend Exile if you’re the type of person who can get over shitty acting. I pushed myself through it by imagining a world where they didn’t cast their best friends as core actors (or at least that’s how it seems) and tried to focus on the words and not the delivery. If you can make it up to the exam sequence, you’re in for a real uncomfortably anxious wtf kind of treat. Honestly, after those scenes you can probably turn it off but there’s not much runtime left after that so you may as well finish. I really want to love this movie, elope with it in vegas, have a couple of children, then start my own alien worshipping cult but the acting is just really really bad. Like super bad. And I think that’s why it only had a brief stint in the festival circuit (that and changing the name of your movie always confuses people). It’s a shame because the writer (Sean Blau) is obviously a creative force and the location scout did their job so who the fuck hired the casting director? They should issue a public apology for ruining what would have been a phenomenal and unique film.
IMDB: 4.1/10 (164 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 🍅No Critic Score 🍿33% (⬅it’s because of the acting I’m telling you)
DEAD🐶PUPPY: 2.5 slimy spider alien tentacles/5 (⬅seriously if they recast and re-shot with better actors I would change it to a 5/5)