Fantastic Fest – The Exorcism of God

By Naomi Roper

When the exorcism of a young woman goes horribly wrong Father Peter Williams (Will Beinbrink, IT, Chapter 2) hides away in a rural village in Mexico where he becomes a living saint to the people there. But when he is asked to perform an exorcism on a young female prisoner he realises that the evil he faced 18 years ago has returned and this time it won’t leave so easily.

My favourite thing about The Exorcism of God is that every person in it acts as if they are in an Oscar-worthy drama. No matter how ridiculous events become (and they get very ridiculous) everyone takes everything as seriously as a heart attack. Which is hilarious because this movie is as camp as a thousand Hallmark Christmas movies. I mean this is a movie that depicts Jesus as a zombie. I’m not sure whether that’s meant to cause outrage but I just found it really funny. Like if Satan was trying to scare me by sending me an emaciated zombie Jesus to haunt my dreams I’d just be like “really? This is the best that you could do? ” I’d feel that maybe Satan’s minions just weren’t sending me their best work.

Then there is the fact that every one that is possessed in this film is just ridiculously horny. The two key women who get possessed spend their time dressed in filthy negligees, groaning and writhing in demonic ecstasy, massive breasts swaying pendulously while spouting hilarious porn dialogue “You’re making me wet for you already Father.’ The porn version of this movie practically writes itself.

The Exorcism of God is also an assault on your senses. It’s a nightmare to watch. The sound mix is all quietly spoken English, murmured Spanish, LOUD NOISES, more mumbly Spanish, MORE LOUD NOISES HI DID YOU MISS US? COME ON ADMIT IT YOU MISSED US.  This is not a subtle movie. Every jump scare is accompanied by a cacophonous racket that quickly becomes rather irritating. 

The scares are minimal if inventively designed. The movie is very aware that its audience will be savvy to the conventions of exorcism films and riffs off each and every one of them (green projectile vomit, people spider walking towards the camera, levitating possessed people).

The movie also skirts significantly around the fact that a central plot point is entirely centred around the brutal rape of an unconscious woman. We don’t see it thankfully and the terrible act is hand waved away by the notion that the individual in question was possessed at the time. It would have been a far more interesting movie if some degree of ambiguity had been retained about whether the perpetrator was possessed or not. 

Beinbrink does as well as he can with the material he’s given but his character would have greatly benefitted from a little more light and shade. María Gabriela de Faría & Irán Castillo try to maintain their dignity while being possessed against their will and turned into horny demons.

It all finishes with a wild ending which makes director Alejandro Hidalgo’s stance on Catholicism and the Roman Catholic church crystal clear.

The Exorcism of God is a very silly movie but it’s one hell of a ride.

The Exorcism of God had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest