Director Chris Sun on the Aussie Exorcism film THE POSSESSED

Australian filmmaker Chris Sun is known for his cruel stories of human and animal horror such as Daddy’s little girl, Charlie’s Farm and Wild boar. Now he’s ventured into the supernatural with The Possessedthat Scream Factory will be released on VOD/digital, Blu-ray and DVD platforms on October 18th.

John Jarratt, of Wild boar and the wolf creek franchise, stars Jacob Chandler, an otherwise ordinary man with a knack for “wiping out” demons from human hosts. Joined by his nephew Liam (Lincoln Lewis), he finds himself called upon to purge an increasing number of the possessed – and one case will particularly test him and Liam’s new girlfriend, Atalie (Lauren Grimson), who has his own powers. Also starring Australian reality TV regular Angie Kent, The Possessed (scripted by Sun and Kirsty Dallas) itself has an actual basis…

What real events is the film based on?

Where we live in Australia, there’s a little town in the mountains where a guy named Mark [Gardener] Lives. Mark is an exorcist and has performed over 1,000 cleansings over the past 20 years. We met Mark – or, as his friends call him, ‘The Accidental Exorcist’ – in 2019 while filming our reality show The Dark Side Below. We interviewed Mark and had him perform a cleanup, which was fascinating and certainly not what I expected. In fact, a few weeks later, Mark performed a cleanse on me, but I don’t think it worked; I’m still screwed!

Seriously though, this man is out of this world and came to me in early 2020 to ask if I would be interested in doing a movie based on him and some of his glades. Of course, I jumped at that chance, and from there, The Possessed was born. Obviously, I added a lot of special effects and monsters to the story and the glades, creating what I think is an original take on the exorcism genre. In most of these films there is a priest or someone from the church performing the exorcism; here we have a man wearing Hawaiian style t-shirts performing the clearances. Also, Mark mostly works alone in real life, but I’ve added a few extra characters into the mix for entertainment.

I used CGI when the demons are removed from the bodies, although I created practical demons and makeup where I could. I was partially inspired by Constantineand despite the microbudget, I really wanted the audience to see what was going on in each clearing, and what each demon looked like.

Do The Possessed represent a new direction in horror for you?

Absolutely, so different from what I’ve done in the past. A few people may be like, “WTF; what did you do with the real Chris Sun? We want more blood, bring it back [laughs]”My past films are known for their practical effects and comedy, so fans will be happy that we have loads of stuff from both in the film. There are other elements of my past work that people enjoy that were not integrated The Possessedbut I think people will see further and appreciate this film for what it is.

Is Jacob a different role for John Jarratt?

Yes. John and I spoke many times about his character and how demanding he was of him. John has played many different characters over the years, although the one we mainly know him for is Mick Taylor from wolf creek. His character in The Possessed was completely foreign to him, and the things I would ask him to do and put his body through were pretty nice. He should throw himself, gag, scream, scream again and again because in real life, Mark lures the demon from the victim’s body into himself, then he has to pull it out and send it back to hell. So John had to perform not only the cleansings, but send the demons back into the earth, so it was like doing the same process as the cleansing, but even more intense on his body and throat.

One day we were filming and I asked John to do this scene several times. The hard part was that it was always a long take, so he had to scream and scream for almost two minutes straight, sending a demon back into the ground. Just when John thought he was done with the scene, I asked for another take. I just knew he could push it a little more. John was definitely frustrated, tired and exhausted, but he was such a pro that he jumped off the floor and did it one more time. This is the take you see at the end of the film; he absolutely broke it, and when you see him crumble, he really crumbled; it has been done. He kissed me afterwards; we were both moved, and I’ll never forget what he said, “Chris, you were right, fuck me, you were right, thanks for pushing me.” I’m 68 and I’ve never done anything like this in my career before, and thank you for allowing me to do this.

I love working with John. I’m a fan of his and he really supports me and my career. He is one of Australia’s greatest, and what an honor to have him involved in The Possessed.

How was Angie Kent chosen for the film?

Angie auditioned for the movie through my PR management; she is replaced by the same team as me. She did a video audition because of COVID and had to do the Blair Witch monologue, and she blew my mind. She really gave it her all, and I was like, ‘Holy shit, Angie is a great little actress.’ So I gave her the role of Nadine; she’s a fun person in real life, so the role was perfect for her, and she got it.