Director/Screenplay – Andrew Jones, Producers – Emily Coupland, Robert Graham & Andrew Jones, Photography – Jonathan McLaughlin, Music – Bobby Cole, Makeup Effects – Jodie Gibson, Production Design – Felicity Boylett. Production Company – Independent Moving Pictures/North Bank Entertainment.
Lee Bane (Father Richard Lamont), Tiffany Ceri (Anna Ecklund), Jeffrey Raggett (Father Theo Reisinger), Judith Haley (Mother Superior), Rik Grayson (Jakob Eklund), Clair Cerrano (Sister Abigail), Sarah Tempest (Sister Madeline), Melissa Bavern (Laura), Stefano Reali (Monsignor Lamberto)
Father Richard Lamont is assigned by The Vatican to perform an exorcism in the British village of Earling. He confesses to local priest Father Theo Reisinger that he thinks he has lost his faith. They go to assess Anna Ecklund who is being held in a convent where she is manifesting a deep voice, contorting her body, taunting people with personal knowledge and speaking in Latin. As they begin the exorcism, Richard begins to learn of the unique abilities that Anna has.
Andrew Jones is a British director/producer who has had a more than reasonable output over the last decade. He started out with two troubled teen films Teenage Wasteland (2006) and The Feral Generation (2007) and subsequently joined the horror genre making the likes of The Amityville Asylum (2013), The Midnight Horror Show (2014), Valley of the Witch (2014), A Haunting at the Rectory (2015), The Last House on Cemetery Lane (2015), Poltergeist Activity (2015), The Curse of Robert the Doll (2015), Robert the Doll (2015), Cabin 28 (2017), The Toymaker (2017), Werewolves of the Third Reich (2017), Jurassic Predator (2018), The Legend of Halloween Jack (2018), The Legend of Robert the Doll (2018), Bundy and the Green River Killer (2018), The Curse of Halloween Jack (2019), The Manson Family Massacre (2019), Robert Reborn (2019), The Utah Cabin Murders (2019), The Haunting of Margam Castle (2020), The Jonestown Haunting (2020), A Killer Next Door (2020) and Alien: Battlefield Earth (2021). He has also produced and written Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (2012) and Silent Night: The Homecoming (2013). Jones has had an incredibly prolific output, putting out an average of three films (all within genre confines) per year since 2013. Lee Bane (who plays the exorcist priest here) has managed to play in at least 20 of the films that Jones has directed or produced.
There has been large body of possession and Exorcism films since the 2000s. Following the hit of hit of The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), a number of these make claims to be based on true stories as with the likes of The Rite (2011), The Possession (2012), The Conjuring (2013), Deliver Us From Evil (2014), The Crucifixion (2017), Veronica (2017), The Exorcism in Amarillo (2021) and The Pope’s Exorcist (2023). (These are discussed in more detail in my essay Possession Films).
Like a number of these films, The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund claims it is based on a true story. In this case, Anna Ecklund was a real person (real name Emma Schmidt) (1882-1941) who lived in Earling, Iowa. She reportedly exhibited a revulsion to holy objects, refused to enter a church and unnatural sexual interest. The German priest Father Theophilus Reisinger performed an exorcism that started in 1912 and was again repeated in 1928. A book was published about this with Begone, Satan! A True Account of an Exorcism in Earling, Iowa in 1928 (1935). That said, Andrew Jones doesn’t seem particularly concerned with the facts and does what Emily Rose did and creates an entirely original story and sets everything in the present-day.
In this regard, Andrew Jones does nothing to vary from the cliches that have become entrenched in the genre since The Exorcist (1973) and which these abovementioned films repeat ad nauseum – Catholic priests as the frontline defence against demons and regarded as the defaults experts in possession; the priest hero who has lost his faith; the possessed girl in cracked face, chained to the bed, wielding psychic powers, taunting the exorcists with knowledge of their personal lives (this version is fairly PG-rated and dispenses with all the usual obscenities); the ritual chanted in Latin with the crucifix burning the possessed girl’s face where it touches her. Jones cycles through these and does nothing to vary from all the usual cliches.
The ending is the only point the film goes off in different directions. It is revealed that Tiffany Ceri’s Anna had miracle healing abilities and that the demon sought her because it desired to corrupt such power. This theme also appears in films like Servants of Twilight (1991) and Bless the Child (2000) where we see cultists seeking to control or corrupt those who have miraculous power. Although here it is interestingly wound into the theories of the Jesuit palaeontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and his belief that everything in the universe is evolving towards a unified consciousness, which he called the Omega Point – here Lee Bane is even seen reading a book by de Chardin discipline and theoretical physicist Frank Tipler.