The Reel Review
William Friedkin, director of the iconic 1973 horror film The Exorcist, chronicles an exorcism conducted by one of the world’s preeminent exorcists, Father Gabriele Amorth, in this 2017 documentary filmed just four months before Father Amorth’s death at age 91.
After showcasing aspects of his own classic film and the real-life 1949 story upon which it was based, Friedkin interviews a woman who says she has experienced several exorcisms by Father Amorth, her brother describing her possession as screaming uncontrollably and speaking a strange language, her body wildly contorted and slithering on the floor, her belly swollen like a balloon about to burst, all while possessing superhuman strength. Alrighty then! Next up: the big climax of the 69-minute film – Father Amorth’s exorcism of a woman named Cristina, an architect living in a small mountain village in Italy. While it doesn’t live up to the aforementioned horror, the sounds Cristina makes are chilling, like two voices emanating from inside her.
The film has an amateurish, tawdry vibe to it, which probably lends it some credibility. Friedkin’s post-exorcism chats with medical professionals trying to match medical diagnoses to what they have witnessed feel half-hearted at best, and his super corny narrative over an off-camera confrontation that Friedkin claims occurred with Cristina and her boyfriend feels like a weak attempt to inject drama into his otherwise dry film, actually diminishing the credibility of the prior exorcism. Boo.
• The Devil and Father Amorth director William Friedkin insists there was no manipulation of the audio taken during the exorcism featured in the film.
• Father Gabriele Amorth claimed that possessions can be a brief, one-time experience, or recur periodically, or even daily.
• William Friedkin’s directing credits include the 2006 psychological horror Bug, the 1985 thriller To Live and Die in L.A. and 1980’s Cruising which starred Al Pacino as a detective hunting a psychopath killing gay men in New York City.