The film begins with a demonic birth, then intersects the story of Eloy and Alba with what seems to be a mass possession at a mental institution whilst weaving in the apparently shared past of all the main characters – Eloy and Alba, mental patient Ona and hard-nosed police officer Diana.
The most striking thing about the film is it’s beautiful and bleak sets and washed-out cinematography. There’s a very gritty and pervading atmosphere of approaching Armageddon. The sound, likewise, is atmospheric and nerve jangling.
The brutal possession scenes, however, are reasonably horrifying but rely on a pretty well explored Blatty-esque sequence of contortions, creepy voices and spurting bodily fluids. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and they’re just not scary enough or unique enough to lend anything new to the on screen portrayal of exorcism. The scares are predictable at best.
Perhaps the biggest problem of the film however is the utterly muddled and vague plot. The viewer spends a significant proportion of the movie not really sure of who anyone really is and why they’re doing what they’re doing. There’s no real sense of why Eloy and Alba are exorcists or quite what Ona and her sister have to do with anything.
There’s a mysterious cult which is never well explained and unfortunately every piece of the plot relies on the last five minutes to reveal all; by which point you’ve already sat through nearly an hour and a half of opaque dark portents. The dramatic twist is pretty obvious to anyone able to get the gist of the exorcisms performed by Alba and the foreshadowing by several characters so it’s not nearly as jaw dropping and genre defying as it wants to be.
I’d be hard pushed to recommend this to a genre fan, let alone someone unfamiliar with their exorcism tropes. Its’ a great idea in need of a great script to match.
Review by Ruth Sullivan
Asmodexia is out now on home entertainment.