Running Time: 81 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist and Reviewer
Exorcism related movies get a hard deal. They will always be compared to The Exorcist (1973) and more often than not be caught short in creating a fraction of the power and fear that William Friedkin’s classic generated. Yet the subject matter continues to fascinate and attract cinema audiences from around the globe. The Exorcist spawned a number of sequels of varying quality while The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and The Last Exorcism (2010) were met with favourable reviews while bringing in a healthy return with the ‘bums on seats’ ratio.
Asmodexia has the unenviable task of bringing something new to to the table while delivering possessed innocents, levitating bodies and gallons of pea and ham soup. Marc Carrete’s attempt at the genre certainly achieves this goal while piling on the atmosphere and wrong footing his audience with one or two impressive plot twists.
The story follows the fortunes of a travelling cult leader and exorcist called Eloy (Lluis Marco) and his gifted granddaughter, Alba (Claudia Pons) as they set forth on a quest around Barcalona to rid the city of evil spirits who possess the living. Opening with the violent and shocking birth of Alba, Asmodexia does go back and forth from current day and the past to slowly reveal the link between the characters and why Eloy keeps on reassuring his granddaughter that they will soon be experiencing ‘The Resurrection’. Each exorcism that takes place becomes more dangerous than the last, broken only by the actions of a troubled female in a mental hospital who has a connection with the possessions and a police inspector that has personal motives for tracking down the duo. The final quarter will bring each of these characters together for a final showdown between good and evil.
Asmodexia is a worthy inclusion to the genre with snappy pacing, solid acting and a carefully constructed story that never spoon feeds its audience answers. The leads work well together as two burnt out souls that barely have enough energy to reach the next location never mind carrying out the mental and physical ordeal of carrying out an exorcism. The director cleverly plays with our expectations as to who is representing good and who is a servant of evil.
Perhaps the film’s greatest flaw is in delivering the scares. Although many of the locations drip atmosphere and the actors invest their heart and soul into the action, the exorcisms don’t seem to gather much tension or dread. Sure you get slimy, white eyed ghouls shouting obscenities at there foes but there never seems to be any threat of danger from them. One sequence in particular with a car accident at a roadside diner comes across rather poorly shot and strangely incomplete. Fortunately the final confrontation, although brief, does reprieve the story’s misgivings with a truly satisfying final image that may well linger in your thoughts for some time after. Perhaps if the final moments were handled as well as the rest of the movie then we would be talking about Carrete’s feature in the years to come as one of the strongest entries in the genre.