Starring: AnnaLynne McCord, Dean Cain and Natasha Henstridge
Directed by: Tommy Stovall
Running Time: 93 minutes
Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
If you Google “Condition of Return,” you’ll get the following synopsis: “A churchgoing woman makes a heinous deal with the Devil in order to save her soul.” Honestly, that’s all I needed to watch this film in the hopes of seeing a Satanic horror film. What I got was an unintentional comedy.
The movie opens with Eve (AnnaLynne McCord) walking into a Catholic church during mass and opening fire with an assault rifle, all the while tears well in her eyes as she watches the various attendees scatter in terror. We cut to much later, where Eve is shackled and Dr. Donald Thomas (Dean Cain) has been flown in to interview Eve. His goal, according to the police chief, is to declare that she is sane. That’s so that the state can cross that red tape checkmark off its list and pump Eve full of various drugs until she dies. With a recorder and notepad in hand, Dr. Thomas sits down for the silliest “be careful or you’re going to hell” movie of the 21st century.
Is that previous comment praise for “Condition of Return?” No. But that’s only because I feel like this movie was made in an earnest effort. I say that because throughout I kept checking if maybe I went in with the wrong expectations. After the first few chuckles, I checked the press email I got about the film. Sure enough, it’s listed as a “Faustian drama.” About halfway through, I checked IMDb which listed it as a “mystery.” By the end I had fully succumbed to my MST3K sensibilities and began laughing at the absurdity of it all.
If I had to describe “Condition of Return,” it’s a film with SyFy Creature Feature production values and a religious script that would make Kevin Sorbo drool at the sheer flawed morality of it. Eve’s tale to Dr. Thomas begins with her meeting a random guy at the bar, only to get knocked up, miscarry and marry the loser. Right off the bat, none of it feels real or genuine. Eve also drops the fact that she’s Catholic. A lot. So as her backstory progresses, she tells Dr. Thomas an increasingly bizarre story of her failing marriage which, no joke, leads to an FBI bust, time in prison, and finally searching “how to summon the devil” online where she lands on a website called Blood Knife. I felt like every unrealistic and stupid progression in Eve’s backstory was like a bad joke being delivered in just the right way to elicit an uncomfortable laugh.
It’s weird when you give a film a middling review when you know that some people will watch this and turn it off in the first 15 minutes, whether it’s the bad special effects, the stagnant dialogue or the go nowhere plot. Others though, like me, will relish in the sheer stupidity of it and will find themselves gleefully waiting to see what happens next, in pure morbid fashion. The old cliché phrase of “It’s so bad, it’s good,” applies to all 93 minutes of “Condition of Return.”