Belzebuth (2017)

Director: Emilio Portes.
Starring. Joaquin Cosio, Tate Ellington, Tobin Bell, Aurora Gil. Mexico. 1h 54m.

Whenever I need a real horror fix I usually find it within the ranks of non English, or at least non Hollywood movies, the last thing which really rocked my boat was the Turkish blazer, Baskin (2015) and the aptly named Aterrados/Terrified (2017) from Argentina to name a few, but in nearby Mexico I found a gem in Belzebuth. I was quite pleasantly surprised about this violent demonic film from seasoned director Portes, who’s mainly known for his fast paced action comedies, so to see him traverse this new genre like a pro says much about his outstanding directorial qualities and hopefully we’ll see more from him in the future, with this blinding spiritual sequel to Pastorela (2011).

What starts out as a series of strange infant and child slayings by people who all committ suicide, leaving no clues for local police. It’s only the audience who is in on what’s happening in the beginning of a demonic horror that delivers a new punch to what might be considered a weary genre. Various people seem to go into a trace when they kill newborns in the hospital or sacrifice kiddies in the swimming pool.

It’s truly disturbing and these crazy scenes are handled in a sensitive way, after all there isn’t much you need to show to when a newborn is being stabbed to death by a nurse, but the murky horror does get more graphic as it progresses and the big boys come out to play. One of the suffering parents is a gruff cop, Detective Ritter (Cosio) who is forced to work through his grief and broken relationship to solve this arcane riddle. After teaming up with a young plucky American priest Ivan Franco (Ellington) the odd couple struggle with their personal differences and opinions on what is really going on.

Once Ritter is willing to consider that a cult might be involved they are soon led to uncover a slew of ancient religious rites, cults, mysticism and the resurrection of Jesus and or the Antichrist all surrounding a secretive character played by Tobin Bell who hangs out in an underground crypt not much unlike his Jigsaw persona he knows what’s going on and likes to orchestrate things from afar. It’s literally the build up to a religious armageddon and there’s not a lot of hope or protection so it might be time to say your prayers.

For the most part the film follows in the footsteps of a typical cop thriller, albeit it incredibly dark and obviously with a touch of the supernatural, but the pace is set out intelligently and there’s rarely a dull moment. Portes really likes a dark vivid color scheme, often highlighting characters’ moods with red or blue hues. There are so many stand out scenes which evoke different fears,

Portes really likes to hit his audience with something different at every opportunity. A psychic fortune teller is bribed for some information and her house turns into Amityville until the cops leave and there’s little hints all over if you look for them. For me, the biggest stand out scene is when the dynamic duo begin to investigate an abandoned church which cult has perverted with their rituals, and a giant effigy of a crucified Christ has been possessed and comes alive and begins screaming and cursing them rightfully so this infernal entity stalks them throughout the movie and seems to be more terrifying in each scene, it’s pure nightmare fuel.

For a while when the zombie genre whipped up a frenzy people were writing to their local councils to discover if anyone has a zombie apocalypse procedure in place, Belzebth might just get you writing to you local priest to see if we have anything in place for the coming of the Antichrist.

Rating 7/10

Related – Pastorela (2011), Asmodexia (2014), Baskin (2015), Aterrados/Terrified (2017),
List -A-Z of Mexican Cinema, AntiChrist Cinema
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