James Palmer's little mind-fuck of a film, 2008's The Ceremony is a darkly delightful Satanic story set in a spacious rented duplex occupied by several college students.
Shortly after graduation, most of the roomies are out celebrating the results of their successful paper chase - except one - Eric: the doe eyed, good guy (Scott Seegmiller) who is home alone packing up and preparing for a job overseas. Stumbling upon a book surrounded by four lit candles in the bedroom of one of his housemates, Eric sets in motion a supernatural chain of events that build slowly (very, very slowly) over the afternoon and evening culminating in a decision on his part that might be his only chance for redemption.
The Ceremony is clearly a low budget venture, and that's what makes it so remarkable. With no real special effects, no big name actors (in fact, for most of the film, Seegmiller is the only actor seen ), and no blood or gore, Palmer crafts the kind of film that, bit by bit, creeps up on the viewer until he or she finds themselves jumping out of their skin and rooting for the hapless graduate.
The trick to enjoying this one is to be very patient. The first half hour of the film, is filled with scenes of the main character making calls, washing dishes, typing emails, and doing laundry in the sparsely decorated, sun splashed house. Frankly, it was something of a chore making it through the first act - but it was well worth it.
In the end, I could not help but notice how The Ceremony was so much like one of those ABC Movie of the Week horror films - the ones that depended on acting and music to set the mood as opposed to bombast and editing. Even the film's denouement is reminiscent of those made-for-TV epics - who doesn't love a twist ending?
You can catch The Ceremony on Netfilix streaming.