The most disturbing documentary ever made? The Devil and Father Amorth – movie review

Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth performs an exorcism on Christina in the documentary "The Devil and Father Amorth."

It’s a documentary about a real-life exorcism, it stars Father Amorth – widely known as the greatest exorcist to have ever lived – it’s directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, 1973) and it’s on Netflix now!

Devil and Father Amorth 1.jpgThe Devil and Father Amorth is centred around Cristina, an Italian woman living in a small town in the South of Italy, who believes she possessed by an evil spirit. Father Amorth, who was both a respected and controversial figure in Italy before he passed away a few months ago, exorcised her for eight times (EIGHT!) unsuccessfully. Now, William Friedkin and his crew will follow him as he tries to liberate Cristina from the demonic presence, for the ninth time.

This premise can be considered pure gold in terms of cinema. It’s important for you to understand that I consider documentaries to be just another genre in cinema. One that, though, sets itself apart from the rest by presenting real footage and real-life events. Add to that a great filmmaker (who basically created modern horror alongside directors like Romero and Hitchcock, and authors like King, Barker and Koontz) and a potentially disturbing story, and you should end up with a great piece of cinema.

Continue reading and check my final grade below…

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Too bad The Devil and Father Amorth is a poor, biased and cheap misrepresentation aimed to convince gullible people that possession is undeniably a fact.

This documentary is all the more disappointing due to its promising start: William Friedkin explains his fascination for the subject matter and delves into some curiosities about his magnum opus, The Exorcist. That’s definitely the most interesting part about The Devil and Father Amorth, alongside a few interviews to men of science about possible scientific explanations of possession and whether or not exorcism might be a cure.

Devil and Father Amorth 2Besides that, we clearly witness altered footage of Cristina’s exorcism – with her voice obviously edited to make it sound scarier and cheap sound effects to shock the more naïve viewers – in a quite repetitive and amateur filming of the procedure. Father Amorth himself, who was everything but a trustworthy source, as I hinted at before, carries his circus of Latin one-liners and obvious anti-demonic prays, all the while Cristina’s family members are gathered in pray around the unconventional duo.

As the scientific community analyses the footage and raises doubts about the whole ordeal, William Friedkin keeps interrupting their reasonings just to push them to say that demonic possession can’t be unproven. Clearly, his intent is not to unbiasedly document an occurrence (which is what I was looking for and what a good documentarist should do), instead he tries to force down the audience’s throat the concept according to which exorcism is justified and the devil exists.

Among those shameful deceptions The Devil and Father Amorth is based on, two particularly infuriated me.

The first one revolves around the subtitles: large part of this film is spoken in Italian (and, since I’m Italian, I could easily understand what the interviewees were saying) but the subtitles are deliberately wrong and deceiving. For example, Cristina says she’s gone directly to the Church before being psychologically tested but, since it’s clear that she suffers from a mental illness to everybody who’s smarter than a sack of bricks, the English translation omits that and lies about Cristina having gone through medical checks. This is outrageous and makes Cristina and her family look like a bunch of religious clowns with the education of a tribe of raccoons!

Secondly, after the ninth visit doesn’t quite do the trick, Friedkin and a colleague tell the story of meeting Cristina and her boyfriend later in a church and witnessing frightening and unexplainable things, none of which are shown on video because at that momentous juncture, Friedkin rushed into the church without his video camera. We just have to take his word for everything and, given how sloppy and biased a lot of this film is, it’s natural consequence to assume that Friedkin simply lied about everything.

Devil and Father Amorth 3Friedkin, do you think your audience is made of dumbasses who couldn’t discern the truth from a badly made hoax? Seriously, this film made me lose a large part of the respect I had for a filmmaker who’s made one of my all-time favourite films. The Devil and Father Amorth is just a cheap, lazy fraud: it doesn’t work as a good film, most definitely it fails as a documentary and it’s also dangerous propaganda that could make the simple-minded more inclined to dogmatically believe in something highly irrational and potentially harmful.

Don’t watch this documentary, but if you do bear in mind what I just wrote with this little review and go into it with a sceptical outlook. Otherwise you’d become another victim of this gigantic hoax.

The Devil and Father Amorth                     2.5/10