TADFF 2019: The Assent Review

It’s not Toronto After Dark without an exorcism.

A single father suspects his son may be possessed in Pearry Reginald Teo’s The Assent.

Widower Joel (Robert Kazinsky) is a struggling bipolar dad who’s trying to do what’s best for his son, Mason (Caden Dragomer). Plagued by mental health issues, Joel can’t be sure what’s real and what’s part of his imagination. When he starts having demonic visions and Mason admits to seeing monsters, Joel enlists the elder Father Lambert (Peter Jason) and young priest Brother Michael (Douglas Spain) to perform an exorcism on the young boy.

One of the festival’s truly terrifying picks, The Assent is steeped in dark imagery and supernatural scares. Set in Joel and Mason’s home, whose décor sense can only be described as funeral parlour chic, the heavy atmosphere helps set the tone for the dark story.

Creatively, Joel’s visions related to his mental illness are depicted on screen with a slight red-and-blue, 3D-glasses-style look which makes some of the visions plaguing the widow even more unique.

The less said about The Assent the better. While the film follows the standard exorcism execution, there’s enough here to offer a fresh look at the genre with some jump scares along the way.

Where the film fails is its not-quite-satisfying conclusion. Though the ending doesn’t make the journey of The Assent worthless, the story deserves to end with a bang, not a whimper.

The Assent plays Toronto After Dark on October 23.

Check out all of our TADFF 2019 coverage here.