Hopefully, you are among those horror fans who never had the displeasure to watch Romina, a Mexican horror movie available on Netflix that was, hands down, one of the very worst horror flicks I’ve seen in 2018. With a 2.2 IMDb rating, Romina is currently the lowest rated horror movie on Netflix: the popular streaming service has decided, however, to allocate funds to the director’s next movie, Mark of the Devil.
After ruining rape and revenge movies with that boring atrocity against humanity known as Romina, Diego Cohen tried his hands on the exorcism/supernatural sub-genre with Mark of the Devil, now available on Netflix. You might wonder why I subjected myself to another flick by such untalented director, and the reason is simply that I was curious to see if Cohen had improved since its previous train wreck. Did he? Well, kind of…
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Mark of the Devil – the worst remake of The Exorcist
After a poorly executed opening scene – and yet, it was the best part of the movie – Mark of the Devil follows two different storylines. On one hand, we witness teenage girl Camilla falling victim of possession, as a demon takes over her body and she starts assaulting her family. On the other, we follow Karl, a man who has learned to deal with the demons inside him, and Father Tomás, a priest with addiction problems, as they go around exorcising people who are possessed. When the two storylines cross path, a battle for the soul of Camilla ensues.
As you can probably tell from the brief synopsis above, this movie is just another version of a story that’s been popularised by The Exorcist in 1973. Possession flicks are, now, the most popular sub-genre in horror, therefore in the past few years we got a few good ones and tons of above average ones. Mark of the Devil is an incredibly incompetent and badly made exorcism flick, but at the same time it’s nowhere near as boring as Romina. In fact, this movie is baffling to the point of becoming unintentionally humorous at times.
How NOT to make a movie
There are plenty of formulaic, uninspired horror movies that are still watchable for a very specific reason: they’re competently shot, they’re easy to follow, the have simplistic structures and storylines. Mark of the Devil, instead, doesn’t feature any of the aforementioned elements: this is an editing nightmare, with so many quick cuts for every scene that you can barely understand who’s the main character in a specific sequence and, in general, what’s going on. In fact, most of the scenes in this movie last less than one minute! What the hell do you expect to establish in less than a minute? Nothing, of course!
Framing and shot composition in the movie are equally amateur and embarrassing. It’s as though whoever was holding the camera was having a series of strokes while filming every single scene. This is particularly noticeable during the last 20 minutes of the movie, where everything is so dark and shaky that it seems like they didn’t remove the lens cap from the camera! In one of the final scenes in the movie [minor spoilers], one of the characters is seen falling in slow-motion and the camera follows him… except that the sequence is so poorly timed that the camera touches the ground way after the character does it! How the hell did this happen? All you had to do was having the camera connected to the character through a stick or any other similar device, erase the stick in post-production with some basic Adobe Premiere visual editing tool and you would achieve the expected effect! It’s really simple, it’s a technique they teach you in film school as one of the easiest visuals tricks to pull off! How can you be so incompetent? It’s both laughable and embarrassing, honestly!
Low-budget is not an excuse
In fact, Mark of the Devil looks like a really low-budget movie, but this is no excuse for how amateur and cheaply-made this flick feels. This isn’t a criticism on the filmmaking only, it’s also valid for the script. Not only the characters are insanely underdeveloped, but they’re also very unlikeable and annoying. It, certainly, doesn’t help that the acting is all-around horrible: granted, the performances aren’t as bas as the ones in Romina, but they’re still way below the average middle-of-the-road horror flick – which, generally, is filled with bad acting to begin with.
The way characters are (under)written is particularly jarring when it comes to Karl and Tomás, the two protagonists we are supposed to side with. One of them just goes around killing people and eating their guts, the other is a drug addict who utilises his priest status to have easier access to meth and cocaine: how the f**k should we sympathise with such horrendous human beings?! Speaking of badly written things, the dialogue is just a pile of clichés and conveniences, delivered in the most thrown away manner you can think of. The movie, also, pokes holes in its own plot: for instance, a character claims that “Hollywood movies gave people the wrong impression on exorcism rituals”, but in the next scene the same character performs an exorcism in the exact same way every subpar Hollywood movie does it!
Mark of the Devil is one of the worst horror movies ever put on Netflix, a mixture of incompetent filmmaking, cliched and nonsensical script, bad acting and annoying characters. You might, however, be able to sit through the whole thing in awe at the way this movie gets every single aspect wrong.
Sometimes, that made this flick unintentionally hilarious, other times it truly pissed me off. Overall, I think even the most die-hard fan of bland, dull possession flicks will find Mark of the Devil insufferable, so I would strongly recommend to avoid it as much as you avoid people in the midst of this coronavirus emergency.
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