One of the things that has always been perfect for short films is that you can take a known property and play with it for a while. The perfect example of that is the classic Hardware Wars by Ernie Fosselius. It’s just so simple to do gags and play with characters in a shorter format. Parody and commentary are perfectly positioned in the world of short film, since those can easily wear out their welcome in features.
And it’s in that realm where we find Yeah Rite, a comedy centered around the world of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.
The concept is brilliant: the Catholic Church has started to come up into the modern age and they’re training new folks as exorcists. A lawyer gets his exorcism license and is teamed with a priest to get the spirit out of a young girl. The priest just happens to be blind, though powerfully faithful. The atheist is a bit casual and a bit pushy. He puts himself in charge of the exorcism while the man of faith stands by.The possessed girl struggles with the demon, and the demon struggles with the atheist who explains away all of the strange happenings, or simply misses them by being off in his own little world… or just fiddling with his iPhone. That’s the kind of film this is.
While all the jokes you’d expect to be in a parody of The Exorcist are there, the biggest laughs come from gags that aren’t your normal fare. Melanie Scrofano, as the demon Zod and the young possessee Jenny, plays her role perfectly, nails every line. She plays exasperated so very well as the demon trying to convince our non-believer exorcist that she’s the real deal. I first noticed Scrofano in the Canadian pic Citizen Gangster a while back, and here she shows wonderful comedic timing and delivery. As the atheist Stu, Joshua Peace plays a role with swagger, but also with an impressive amount of the dumb. It’s great to see an actor know that there’s a couple of ways to get comedy out of a role, and Peace does both very well. He’s endlessly annoying, but in the way that makes you want to cinematically slap him around, not turn off the film.
If there’s a weakness to Yeah Rite it’s the use of the brilliant Toby Proctor. He’s best known as a voice actor, and he plays our blind priest very well, but in a way his role feels like a bit of a spear-bearer in this one. He’s got little to do, and though his blindness does allow for a couple of decent jokes, it’s nothing special. I do have to admit that the way he played his character was exactly right, and that’s a good thing, but there was so much more they could have done with him.
Overall, Yeah Rite is the kind of film I love to see. It takes a piece of cinematic history and puts it into a situation of ridiculousness. The acting is solid, the premise brilliant, and the story a lot of fun. Almost all the action takes place in a tiny room, which you can get away with in a short. The shooting of the film isn’t particularly remarkable, and I was kinda hoping for a bit more of a kind of reference to the cinematography of The Exorcist, but alas, you can’t always get what you want. In this case, what we get is an impressive short film that made me laugh heartily.