Releasing today from Anchor Bay is a horror film that takes on a subject I personally feel still hasn’t been treated right in either the horror genre or as the subject of a documentary, and yet it is rife with story potential. This one attempts to combine both of those genres, purporting to be a true account of what happened when director Joe Marino went looking for the devil.
The film is a little disjointed, and the opening of the film feels completely out-of-place, and is only there for a pay-off later. It’s too bad, because there are some nice moments throughout the film, but it’s plagued by a lack of narrative and anyone with any real acting chops. The acting borders on atrocious, best illustrated in scenes during exorcisms when the only person reacting to what could be construed as creepy stuff is Marino, who initially tries to play everything as wryly sceptical. Every one else seems to just be standing around with their cameras or boom mics hoping to get through the take.
They travel to the Vatican, which Marino, and some folk he chats to insists is the true home of the devil. They hear rumours of orgies, paganism, and the offering and reward of money in power, all for services to and for the devil. This little thread is left to dangle for the rest of the film, after their witnessing a Black Mass. This storyline, if followed would have been really entertaining, allowing for the supernatural to combine with conspiracy. Instead, all of it seems to be promptly set aside as they move on to their next subject.
Father Monsi is a Vatican priest who performs exorcisms daily, like a doctor making his rounds. This is odd, because wouldn’t the Vatican not want him doing it if it truly was the home to the devil?
As we join Monsi, things start to change in Marino, and if you miss it, there are title cards to point out that he’s changing and behaving irrationally. This part of the film does have some nice sequences including a bit with a child’s drawing, a figure standing in a hallway, and the final contortionist exorcism (though this is a bit over done).
The scenery is great, Italy is always gorgeous on film, but a setting does not a movie make, story, actors, pacing and editing should all be taken into consideration, and those involved should have taken a harder look at this one to craft a tighter narrative before completing it.
And until someone actually takes on this subject matter in a real documentary, we’ll just have to keep wading through films like this that don’t quite realize their potential.
Don’t take my opinion for it though, check it out from Anchor Bay today, and let me know!