THE EXORCISM OF GOD (REVIEW)
Dir. Alejandro Hidalgo
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Not content with paving the way for the biggest horror of the year of 1973, but also of the 50 years that followed and the genre has been looking up at it as the rightful father figure of the genre. Ever since its release movies have emulated the successful balance of religious battles and tense real life drama to only lesser effect. Moments have come close, to Friedkin's classic. We 've had THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, THE LAST EXORCISM and even THE OMEN battling directly with the devil himself all adding their own spin on exorcisms unlike the countless dupes that only try and gain momentum from THE EXORCIST.
THE EXORCISM OF GOD may appear to be one of the latter, with an opening that borders on parody with shot for shot takes from Linda Blair and Max von Sidow's relationship but perseverance really pays off as the consequences of what seems like a successful exorcism lead to unparalleled consequences.
18 years after the exorcism, Father Peter Williams (Joel Seidl) working in Mexico is now considered a saint by many local parishioners. However, due to a botched exorcism, he carries a secret that’s eating him alive until he gets an opportunity to face his demon one final time.
Alejandro Hidalgo who gave us the brilliant THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME makes his second feature 13 years after that horror classic and proves that a good director is based on quality, not quantity. To discuss THE EXORCISM OF GOD's biggest assets would be to fall deep down the rabbit hole of spoiler territory so to avoid that, it's fair to simply say that Hidalgo's film is the most anti-exorcism film out there that still doesn't stray from genre tropes. The biggest strength is the movement from cliché to gripping horror that truly strikes a chord for horror fans who have seen it all before. And to top there are some of hte scariest scenes on film noting a bedsheet and furthermore the terrifically chilling make-up on the possessed.
At times, the film winks as green puke flies across the room and in the next shot, then amplifies that with fingers eaten being ejected from the possessed mouth. The dark and violent looking sets are only made creepier with the inhabitants and as the stakes rise, there are no limits to what is at stake as the possessed have a real play to hand that really drives the original take on exorcism movies. THE EXORCISM OF GOD lives up to its title and is genuinely one of the greatest exorcism films ever made in that it brings something very new to the genre. Nestled somewhere between THE EXORCIST and THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, the power of Christ compels you to watch this with a keen eye for how filmmakers can revive a dead subject and not bring up a zombie. There's also the added treat of gifting us Joseph Marcell who steals every scene as a partner priest to Seidl.