SBS VICELAND takes a trip to Ukraine with an all-American trio of travelling teenage exorcists, and quickly learns that nothing is as it seems.
By
Jeremy Cassar

14 Feb 2017 - 11:55 AM  UPDATED 15 Feb 2017 - 3:45 PM

 

Teen Exorcist, a documentary that’s both baffling and a little batty, sees correspondent Charlet Duboc travel alongside three lipstick exorcists, all of whom are yet to hit the age of twenty. 

It’s a genuinely compelling slice of absurdity, vacillating between laugh-out-loud preposterousness and disturbing emotion.  

If that’s not enough to convince you to take a short journey into the you-can’t-write-this-sh**, then here’s a taste of what to expect.

Meet Brynne Larson and the Sherkenback sisters

Wide-eyed and with unflappable enthusiasm, three teens from Phoenix, Arizona, jet-set across the globe to the unstable nation of Ukraine to save the souls of its primarily rural citizens.

The trio use a method of intense aggression when confronted with a suffering soul, flicking from cultish serenity to borderline frightening ghost-busters in the name of Jesus.

Surely, considering their age, someone less impressionable is pulling the strings?

Meet Bob Larson, Brynne’s father, a highly controversial exorcist

The man behind the curtain is very much in front of the curtain.

 

You may recognise Bob Larson from the brilliant John Safran VS God, where he was no less sinister than he is now, twelve years later.

In fact, he comes across arguably more sinister, now that he’s moving his daughter’s triangle of youth to center stage, at least when it comes to marketing.

That’s right, while this seemingly altruistic tour is advertised as headed-up by teen exorcists, the plain truth is this ageing, failed televangelist is running the show.

Bob and the teens target tiny, impoverished towns that are amongst the most ravaged by drugs and abuse in the world

The people of these mostly mining towns are full of long-time drug addicts and even-longer-time sufferers of sexual and physical abuse (mostly women). While from a distance you’d think this choice is a charitable one, there’s a sense these so-called exorcists are taking advantage of those desperate for spiritual salvation.

Bob and the teens are in contact with New Generation church, an up-and-coming, 60-branch-strong sect of Christianity.

Each of these sixty facilities seek to rehabilitate those unable to manage at life due to drug addiction and abuse histories, and each patient remains in rehab until they’ve expelled whatever demon is dragging them down.

No matter how ludicrous the Larson/Shenkenback show is at its heart, some Ukrainian believers seem to benefit from the process…

The term ‘placebo effect’ may come into play here, as Bob’s world, at best, obviously creates a climate where the purging of inner pain is possible. But when he and the girls are verbally coaxing the literal Linda Blair out of the suffering and broken, it’s hard not to wonder if the power of suggestion is coming into play.

And when a woman from the crowd who seems genuinely possessed starts speaking out as her demon?

Bob Larson loses it. He orders security to escort this disturbed woman out of the building, more-than-agitated over the fact that she was speaking out of turn and disrupting the media coverage of the event.

While it seems as if his primary concern was saving souls, it is evident that he is more concerned with whether the event was successfully recorded from all angles. 

 

Teen Exorcist is streaming now on SBS On Demand:

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