By Chris Nashawaty
April 19, 2018 at 04:28 PM EDT
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The Devil and Father Amorth

type
  • Movie
genre

Forty-five years after directing The Exorcist — arguably the scariest movie ever made — William Friedkin still can’t seem to shake Satan. In the unsettling and also kind of hokey new documentary The Devil and Father Amorth, the 82-year-old director puts on his Leonard Nimoy hat, stands stiffly in front of the camera, and hosts what feels like a schlocky old episode of In Search of… With a rascally twinkle in his eye and the breathless hype of a carny barker, Friedkin explains that he’s about to show us — you guessed it — the first authentic exorcism that the Vatican has ever allowed to be filmed.

First, he introduces us to Father Amorth, the elderly, elfin head exorcist of the diocese of Rome. Then we meet Cristina, a 46-year-old Italian architect who claims to be possessed. What follows is the Catholic priest’s ninth attempt to rid this poor woman of her spiritual curse. Shot with a handheld video camera, the documentary has the cheap, grainy look of a snuff film. And regardless of whether you were raised in the church and believe in God and the devil, there’s a chilling air of taboo voyeurism in all of this. But as it goes on, and as Cristina begins to buck and thrash, screaming, “She belongs to me!” in a demonic caterwaul, something else creeps over you: the feeling that this is something you shouldn’t be watching. If it’s real, you’d rather not see it. And if it’s not, then this is just exploitation of an unfortunate soul with serious mental illness. Whatever the case, you’re better off rewatching the fake Linda Blair movie. C

The Devil and Father Amorth

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • UNRATED
director
  • William Friedkin

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