Directed and co written by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The Guardian, The French Connection),co written with musician and film critic, Mark Kermode and staring Father Gabriel Amorth.
The Devil and Father Amorth was a documentary I was excited to see since hearing about it in early 2017. Since I was young, I’ve been obsessed to a degree with exorcisms, the ritual and what happens to those afflicted with this issue. Once I found out the film was on Netflix, I jumped on the opportunity to check it out.
This documentary follows the final exorcism performed by Father Gabriel Amorth. An exorcist for the diocese of Rome, Amorth has reportedly exorcised tens of thousands of people whom had been possessed by a demon or as some would claim, the devil himself.
Finding out about this accomplishment, director William Friedkin sought out Amorth. Being a fan of Friedkin and his films, Amorth eventually gave his blessings to Friedkin allowing him to film one of the exorcisms as long as he followed a few minor guidelines. Essentially, Friedkin was the only one allowed to attend the ritual next to the family of the possessed. He was unable to bring in a crew which forced him to use a single handheld camera in which he would have to handle himself, but more on this later
The introduction of the piece plays heavily on the fact that Friedkin is the director of the 1973 horror film, The Exorcist. He gives people a quick walk through in George Town (where the movie was filmed) and spoke to viewers about the novel, it’s inspiration, showed off the “Exorcist Stairs” and the MacNeil house in which the stairs are right next to. These are all items he uses to catch the attention of fans of his film to pull them into this doc.
As we progress, Friedkin interviews several people who have been worked on by Amorth in the past sharing their experience prior, during and following their personal events. Be forewarned as these interviews are all in Italian and require the use of subtitles to understand what they are telling us and although we’re hoping to find something of interest coming from them, the stories provided are quite dull and uneventful.
Friedkin follows this up with what people are watching this for. The “real footage” of Amorth’s exorcism.
If you’re expecting head rotating, pea soup projectiles and spider walks, you’re watching the wrong show! What we are privy to see however, is a woman who seems to be in a massive amount of pain, being held down tightly by multiple men while Amorth is performing the rite of exorcism. She is occasionally shouting out with sounds of agony, the sounds of her voice seemingly sounding like two people are speaking at the exact same time.
As I mentioned earlier, Friedkin was forced to go into the exorcism on his own. This was likely set up as a rule in order for Amorth to keep any potential editing from happening and to show the world exactly what one of these rituals entail.
When it comes to this, someone may not be able to mess around with the visuals too much but what about the audio? It would be simple for someone to add in, for example, a second audio track over the voice of the possessed.
Could this be an audio trick? I personally feel like it is but with Friedkin claiming this is a real life event without any alterations you can never know if he’s showing the world something incredibly frightening or if he’s attempting to cling on to some sort of semblance of his past. Either way, the footage is uneventful for what most would be expecting to see next to this potential add on.
Friedkin was also kind enough to bring in medical professionals to go over the tapes and give their take on the situation.
Most of their answers involved a medical explanation for what the woman in question was going through, offering medical advice and potential treatments which could aid the woman towards a cure. The answers provided by the medical professionals are well thought out but Friedkin seems to push them at different points to provide him with the answers he thinks would sound best for the documentary and while doing so, visibly upsetting one of the doctors.
By the end, we are told a story by Friedkin about following up with the girl for an additional interview regarding her failed exorcism. He begins to claim that his life was threatened and that the possessed woman and her boyfriend began demanding Friedkin to hand over the footage the took of her. During this story we have an art house style of visuals from inside a church but no footage of the actual event making the film even less believable than it was going in.
If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, the documentary is now available on Netflix
2 out of 10.
This week on Beyond The Void Horror Podcast It’s that time! Britni returns to do our Top Horror Movies of 2018! We have our honorable mentions and our Top 10 of 2018. Don’t miss this episode. It’s a big week and you are invited! You can listen here or you can Listen/Subscribe on iTunes here!