We are in the 1970’s, and Dr. Henry West has created an institute in order to research people with supposed supernatural abilities. When a woman named Judith Winstead arrives at the facility, Dr. West gets to experience a series of amazing abilities for the first time. In fact, Judith’s supernatural powers even gains the attention from the U.S. military, who assumes control over the lab under orders of national security in hopes of utilizing Judith’s powers as a weapon. But something is not quite right with Judith…and it becomes clear that her supernatural powers are stemming from something else than herself…
The Atticus Institute is made in a “mockumentary” style (faux documentary), meaning that it’s somewhat similar to the found footage genre but without any shaky cams. It does stand out with its rather unique concept though, and I have at least never seen a movie where the military is mixed up in a supposed demonic possession, hoping to use it as a weapon (although you could easily imagine that this is something they’d probably be interested in doing if such things actually existed). Still, it’s not a movie for you if you’re in for some fast-paced action, because there’s a lot of talking heads here. However, with several “interviews” mixed with the “footage”, the movie gets a somewhat authentic feel to it. This “authenticity” is quickly punched back to the ground by having a bunch of well-known actors, though, as several of them have had roles in major movies and TV-Series (like Dexter and Lost). But that’s just nitpicking, as we do of course know it’s all fake. Still, it’s actually doing a pretty good job of feeling like an actual documentary.
The Atticus Institute is a nice entry into the mockumentary horror genre, which derives a bit from the typical found-footage bunch (meaning no shaky cameras or running around screaming while filming the ground). Its slow burn may turn some people off, however, and the ending feels a bit underwhelming and rushed. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and there’s more than a fair share of horror-cliches we’ve seen a ton of times before, but the combination of mockumentary and demonic possession helps it feel fresh enough.
Director: Chris Sparling
Country & year: USA, 2015
Actors: Rya Kihlstedt, William Mapother, Sharon Maughan, Harry Groener, John Rubinstein, Julian Acosta, Lou Beatty Jr., Anne Betancourt