The Atticus Institute

The Atticus Institute movie
Chris Sparling


The Atticus Institute was founded to performpsychological tests on individuals who expressedsupernatural abilities. In the fall of 1976, JudithWinstead (Rya Kihlstedt of TV's DEXTER) gained theattention of the US Department of Defense, whosubsequently took over the research facility whenthey discovered she was possessed. Recentlydeclassified documentary footage shows that theattempt to weaponize evil simply could not be controlled.


Dr Henry West (William Mapother) is the cheif researcher of the Atticus Institute, a small group dedicated to the investigation of psychic phenomena during the mid 1970s.  In 1976 a middle aged woman named Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt) is delivered into their care, as she exhibits an extraordinary level of strange abilities.
Nearly 40 years later, the true story of what happened is recounted by those involved.  It seems as if Judith was more than simply psychic: she was a conduit for something far more malevolent….
The Atticus Institute was written and directed by Chris Sparling, and is one of the best examples of horror mockumentary you are likely to find.  Presented here is a beutiful period piece, supplemented with modern day talking heads, which weaves a simple story extremely well.  The mockumentary style is very difficult to pull off, and bar a slightly underwhealming climax, this is almost pitch perfect.  Sparling has chosen his actors exceptionally well.
In the period footage, the brilliant William Mapother looks the part as a mid-70s scientist, and Rya Kihlstedt gives a fantastic, mostly physical, performance as the unhinged Judith.  In the modern day, there are some beautifully realised naturalistic turns by genre favourite Harry Groener (The Mayor in Buffy: The Vamplire Slayer), Sharon Maughan, and John Rubinstein.  These performances hold together the fantastical story by measure of their being so understated and untheatrical.  You can almost believe that these are just everyday people who have witnessed something supernatural.

This director really rocks, he was great in ATM, in my opinion, and this movie is just an instance on making paranormal movies with lo-budget.
I’m loathe to say more, lest the journey be spoiled, but there are elements here which meld the found-footage subgenre with such genre pieces as The Entity (1982), Lake Mungo (2008), and The Exorcist (1973).  For the most part, The Atticus Institute surpasses the less successful elements of all of those films, and comes damn close in matching the best.  If you want to watch a thoroughly engaging and enthralling bit of genre film-making, you couldn’t pick a more entertaining movie.



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