8/26/2019

Belzebuth (Review)

Title: Belzebuth
Director: Emilio Portes
Writers: Luis Carlos Fuentes, Emilio Portes
Cast: Tobin Bell, Joaquín Cosio, Tate Ellington, Giovanna Zacarías, Aida López, Aurora Gil
Min: 114
Year: 2017

Police Detective Emmanuel Ritter (Joaquín Cosio) and his wife have just had a kid. He has to leave for work and soon thereafter, a woman brutally stabs and kills all the babies (including his), save for one (who survives due to happenstance and luck), in the hospital. Five years later, a kid comes into a school and guns down all the kindergarten children, then blows off his own head. Ritter is called in to investigate and soon there is a continuous series of similar massacres. Although, he doesn't like it, he teams up with an American priest turned paranormal investigator, named Ivan Franco (Tate Ellington) to get to the bottom of it all. Connected in all of this, somehow, is an excommunicated priest, now with satanic connections (Tobin Bell). As the more and more seemingly demonic truth, reveals itself, our heroes must hurry to prevent more from being added to the body count and stop the ever rising hellish evil.
Belzebuth is a bilingual, Mexican, satanic horror movie. It earns points by taking well worn ideas and being able to give us a fresh take on them. While, I genuinely leave most satanic and possession movies with a sense of apathy or worse, this movie actually managed to surprise me and go in manners I did not expect. And, for this horror fan, who feels that he has seen it all, and seen it done a million times over, that is a big compliment to give out.

While, this movie could have been generic and gone a very by the numbers way of telling and revealing its story, it instead ops for a far more interesting approach. As a matter of fact, my theory of what is happening was kind of wrong. As the truth behind the plot's mystery reveals itself, the truth is pretty wild. But, thankfully the movie is done well enough where one can accept and go with it. The climatic exorcism is fresh and wild and a great change of pace for those who are fucking sick of shitty Exorcist rip-offs.

The directing by Emilio Portes is strong. While before this he was only known for comedies like Pastorela and The Popcorn Chronicles (neither of which I have ever seen), he clearly knows how to handle horror. As he achieves some very chilling moments. For example, there is this great reveal of hand prints that is down right jaw dropping! Aided by some strong editing, he does a good job building tension. While, it feels a wee bit overlong, the film always remains interesting and thankfully involving.
With the various mass gun downs and suicide bombings the movie feels even more frightening, due to recent and horrific real life events. A lot of violence involving children happens off-screen. But, the mere fact that it involves kids makes it uncomfortable without much being shown, beyond some blood spattered sets. That being said, there are some good bits of actual gore, including an impressive pickax kill and a fairly graphic crucifixion.

One of the movie's strongest aspects is the great acting. Particularly strong is Joaquín Cosio as our main protagonist Lieutenant Ritter. He really puts his heart into the role, giving a powerful and very believable performance that allows him to express a wide variety of emotions in various scenarios. Saw actor Tobin Bell does some very subdued acting in his role as the mysterious stranger with satanic tats. They are supported and helped by the rest of the strong cast.
Belzebuth is an interesting if a bit longer than needed be satanic horror film. It features a new take on a well worn sub-genre and gives us wild and interesting ideas. It is further aided by suspenseful directing and editing, as well as having a central mystery that reveals its nature in original ways. Throw in some "Oh shit!" moments, shocking occurrences, and gore, as well, as strong acting and you get a flick worth your time. It will begin streaming this Thursday on Shudder, be sure to see it then.

 

3 out of 4 

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