Festivals

The Exorcism Of God

{Fantasic Fest 2021} The Exorcism Of God Review-Surprisingly Scary With Stunning Creatures

I enjoy the possession sub-genre. Everything from Kimo Stamboel’s The Queen Of Black Magic(2021) to The Exorcism of Emily Rose is fair game. The ultra-violent Indonesian hits like Joko Anwar’s Impetigore and May The Devil Take You Too have been at the top of my list recently. Without knowing anything about The Exorcism Of God, I was willing to add it to my Fantastic Fest 2021 coverage simply because I like devil stuff. I had no idea I would stumble away from the viewing, freaked out, grossed out, and laughing.

Father Peter Williams has a traumatic past. As a very young priest, he attempted an exorcism of a young girl in a small village in Mexico. Although he was warned that he was not experienced enough, he insisted, and that decision changed his life. The exorcism was ultimately successful but at a very steep price. Now years later, the priest has dedicated his life to the orphans he looks after and the village he cares for. To the villagers, he is a saint. He hides a dark secret, though. Something happened during the exorcism, and however hard he tries, he can’t completely escape it. When many of the children in the orphanage he looks after become mysteriously ill and a woman inmate in the local jail displays signs of possession, he must again battle with the demon that still haunts him.

Father Peter is a gravelly-voiced idealist. However, William Beinbrink(Dark and Shepard) brings the perfect balance of vulnerability and hubris. Regardless of what he did in his past, he is a good and devout man. That faith is tested, though, and Beinbrink does an admirable job showing the dueling traits of self-loathing and overconfidence he possesses.

The Exorcism Of God is the kind of movie that is 100% authentic to both its roots and obviously the childhood influences behind the imagery and narrative. The almost entirely female-led gaggle of demons(save one heinously unChrist-like beast) are a horrific mixed bag of lurching, drooling, leering, and moaning. Some of the best monster creations captured the camera and dared you to watch. These are creatures that are so over the top disturbing you are afraid to look directly at the screen for fear they would turn their multiple colored eyes and look at you. They are technicolor grotesquerie at its absolute best complete with jerking motions and obscene dialogue. The demons from Hell are like nothing you have ever seen. They are all singularly disgusting, unabashedly raunchy, and in two cases sacrilegiously horrifying. Even if the well-paced plot was terrible, you should watch for the demon design alone.

Luckily the plot is well thought out and fast-paced. There isn’t any downtime in the hour, and thirty-seven-minute runtime just balls to the wall madness. In all the bonkersness, director Alejandro Hidalgo never loses sight of what he wants to produce. This is a surprisingly clever movie masquerading as a shock fest. Even the final moments will surprise you. Fans of Mortal Combat(1995) will half expect a booming techno beat to begin playing while someone shouts TEST YOUR MIGHT! That smart ending also sets up what could easily be a successful and campy sequel.

There is some touchy ground in The Exorcism Of God that almost veers into a space where priest abuse, if not excused, is explained away. That could be problematic if not for the obviously cheeky tone of the film. However, Hidalgo knows when to push and when to pull back to strike just the right mix of scares and levity. Fellow priest and friend of Father Peter is Father Michael, an unexpected and perfectly cast Joseph Marcell(The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air). He provides all the comedy relief and is one hilariously foul-mouthed man of God.

The Exorcism Of God is a fun movie full of lasting imagery and just enough cheese with the gore to make it palatable. There are genuinely unnerving jumpscares, extended bursts of violence, and loud bone-rattling roars that jangle the nerves and set your teeth on edge. It isn’t a cheap film full of one jump after another, but instead, well times scares that keep you poised for more. For fans of hyper-violence, unsettling imagery, and nervous laughter, The Exorcism Of God is an entertaining triumph. Find all our Fantastic Fest coverage here.