The Exorcism Of God, released in select theaters and VOD everywhere last week, is a surprisingly scary take on the demonic possession sub-genre. Largely this is due to a handful of incredible creatures and an interesting storyline that are as unique as they are terrifying. As a result, it’s an easy film to like particularly if you are a fan of the granddaddy of all possession movies, The Exorcist.
Venezuelan Director Alejandro Hidalgo pays loving homage to the classic through visual cues lifted directly from William Friedkin’s masterpiece and combining them with his unique style and brand of storytelling. I talked with Hidalgo and the star of The Exorcism Of God, Will Beinbrink, about what influenced them, those horrifying creatures, possible sequels, and what they hope viewers will take away from the story.
Hidalgo wanted to “honor[ing]new possession movies like The Conjuring Universe” but through his own lens. His film manages to feel like the scariest of those movies without copying them. When asked about his influences, Hidalgo stressed the importance of paying tribute rather than mimicking and said he was “traumatized” as a kid watching The Exorcist. Through a mix of drama, moral dilemma, comedy, and terror, he was able to create something utterly unique. Hidalgo said he “wanted to make a film that makes you have a good time”. He further explained he wanted to produce a movie that would be both thought-provoking and enjoyable.
The Exorcism Of God is about a perversion of faith. Will Beinbrink, who plays Father Peter William, said that the “seed” of being confused as a child about these icons was the ‘jumping-off point”. He explained he was drawn to this film because after reading the script he thought, “the scenes are [like]crazy, but they make sense and aren’t done for shock value”. Hidalgo said it was about getting “possessed by your own darkness”. The film never feels forced instead relying on the human condition and stylish visuals to tell the story.
The original creatures were inspired by Hidalgo’s childhood experiences in the Catholic church. Praying to things that were both gorgeous but also scary filled him with guilt for “seeing something dark in something so beautiful”. Beinbrink grew up “Christian, more specifically Protestant” and “didn’t enjoy the experience of going to church” but has become spiritual. He used his spirituality as “his faith’ to ground his Father Peter.
That personal connection to the monsters allowed them to be so impactful. It was essential that the demons look real and horrifying and a little cartoony. Hidalgo achieved that through prosthetics and makeup, allowing the actors to “feel the textures” of their possession and limited effects. It was crucial to him they were both scary and fun.
Beinbrink, who is no novice at playing dark characters, having done a brilliant turn as Tom in It Chapter II, is shockingly funny. That intrinsic humor brought authenticity to the comedic bits with Joseph Marcell(The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air), who plays veteran exorcist, Father Michael Lewis. The humorous beats help make the gritty darkness that bookends the jokes harder hitting. Their palpable chemistry helps maintain that careful balance of camp and fear Hildalgo was going for. In addition, he said, “we had a great situation living together in Mexico City during filming.” According to Beinbrink, it “helped build the chemistry”.
Gregarious Beinbrink said Father Peter’s duality is what makes him so relatable. He loved that he was a “human being” with his own “cross to bear”. Beinbrink describes working with Hidalgo as incredible, and Beinbrink calls him a “madman genius”. He recalls the experience being a rewarding battle. The Exorcism Of God feels like a bonkers movie as enjoyable as it is scary. According to Beinbrink, that was due to the positive experience. He likened it to climbing Mount Everest.
When I asked them both what was next, they were excited about the future. Hidalgo is currently working on a remake of his first feature film, The House At The End Of Time, on Amazon Prime right now. He also is working on The Vessel from Paul Harris Boardman, who co-wrote the Exorcism of Emily Rose, and a possible prequel and sequel to The Exorcism of God. Beinbrink is excited for additional movies in The Exorcism of God Universe to show “other sides of this character”. He said Hidalgo’s ideas “sets itself up in such a good way”.
The continuation of the story wouldn’t be a money grab but a viable extension of a universe we want to see more of. The ending leaves so many places for the story to go. Hidalgo promises future films would be powerful. He is planning for additional movies depending on its success in America. It had huge box office numbers in Latin America, and I suspect it will be true worldwide. Beinbrink has several things in the works that he can’t divulge yet but is very excited about.
Beinbrink is a gifted actor who breathes life into a flawed but righteous character, and Hidalgo has a singular style you won’t forget. At once playful and traumatizing, his is a unique vision. The Exorcism Of God is a great movie, unlike anything you have ever seen. It can be found everywhere you stream films and in select theaters right now. Read our full review from Fantastic Fest here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.