Fantastic Fest 2021 Review: The Exorcism of God

Written by Alexander Reams

54/100

Religious horror has been a niche genre since the birth of horror. The idea of mixing the idea of God (religion) with Satan (horror) is one of my favorite genres across all of film. I still remember seeing The VVitch and Apostle for the first time and those films being my gateway into this genre of horror filled with a huge variety of religious iconography. The Exorcism of God is no different, the religious influences are clear, the vision, not as much.

Alejandro Hidalgo’s The Exorcism of God is another interesting entry into this niche. Clearly inspired by one of the greatest horror films of all time, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Instead of following the possessed girl, we follow the priest who performs the exorcism on her. Played masterfully by Will Beinbrink, who commits an egregious act during the exorcism that he is able to hide for nearly 2 decades before it begins to weigh heavily on his soul. Playing off Beinbrink for most of the film is Joseph Marcell’s Father Lewis, while not on the level of Beinbrink he still does a serviceable job.

Fantastic Fest 2021

The film also takes a fresh approach, instead of trying to mock or poke fun at religion, or people’s beliefs, and instead choosing to attack the people within it and their own hypocrisy. It has been long public of the misdeeds of the Catholic Church and their predatory behavior towards minors. This take feels fresh, despite the horrendous and irreprehensible act that happens in the opening scene.

Hidalgo is not only directing but also co-writing with Santiago Fernandez Calvete. Pulling near double duty here clearly took his focus off each position. The film constantly feels unfocused from its narrative, instead chose to utilize traditional horror tropes (high violin pitches, jump scares) to try to mask the fact that the film just doesn’t have substance to it. Any semblance of the theme is watered down to it’s dull exposition. There is so much promise here, from the fantastic performance by Beinbrink to the gorgeous macabre cinematography by Gerard Uzcategui, and all of that promise is wasted on a script that could’ve used a few more drafts, and far less jump scares.

The Exorcism of God was screened as part of the 2021 edition of Fantastic Fest.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

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