The horror elements of Venezuelan filmmaker Alejandro Hidalgo’s latest outing, The Exorcism of God are based on his own childhood fears:
“When I was a Catholic, I knelt in church to pray to a messiah who brought a beautiful message of love and forgiveness to humankind, but the figure I was praying to showed a tortured man, crucified and covered in blood. That image scared me deep inside” he confesses. “After watching a scene as aberrant as that of the desecrated Virgin Mary in “The Exorcist”, I was so traumatised, that every time I prayed to the Virgin, I couldn’t help but imagine her in her demonic figure, covered in blood, with breasts and penis. In this way, the sinister image of the diabolical Jesus Christ, possessed by Lucifer himself, materialised in my mind. Those images that terrified and filled me with guilt during my Catholic childhood days, inspired me to make this film that tells the story of a hero who is forced to choose between the will of God or the possibility of saving his children.”
Helmed by Hidalgo from a screenplay he co-wrote in collaboration with Santiago Fernández and starring Will Beinbrink, Joseph Marcell, María Gabriela de Faría, Hector Kotsifakis and Iran Castillo, The Exorcism of God centres on Father Peter Williams (Beinbrink), an American exorcist afflicted by the guilt of a terrible sin: When he was possessed by a demon he was trying to exorcise, he committed a heinous act of sacrilege. As a means of atoning for this sin, Peter devotes his life to humanitarian work in a small town in Mexico but, eighteen years later, his long-buried secret comes to light when the demon from his past returns, inhabiting a young girl and triggering some form of fatal disease. Given the situation, Peter is forced between saving his own soul and saving the people he loves most in one last, epic battle against his inner demons.
Ahead of the release of The Exorcism of God in Theatres, On Demand and Digital this Friday March 11th, SCREAM sat down with the film’s protagonist, Beinbrink, who discussed moulding his character, the film’s religious themes, getting to share some welcome moments of comic relief with veteran great, Joseph Marcell, and how he is already in talks with Hidalgo about a potential sequel.
Words: Howard Gorman