Lets face it. Exorcism movies have been a bit played out in the last few years. When Paranormal Activity made demons scary again almost half a decade ago, a slew of films came along that immediately plugged into the vein of that and mixed The Exorcist with found footage. What we got was a plethora of bargain bin scares like The Rite and some decent titles like The Last Exorcism and Atrocious.
With Asmodexia, writer-director Mark Carreté has crafted an original and unique entry into the exorcism genre without having to turn it into a traditional shaky cam affair.
Eloy Palma and his granddaughter Alba are travelling exorcists who are clearing a land where possession has taken hold of weaker willed individuals (children, elderly and the mentally unstable) like a quick spreading disease. After a couple of frightening exorcisms are witnessed, its clear that Alba is special and important to the cause. While this foundation is being built, we are also introduced to Ona, a mental patient who has correctly predicted many of the things that have been happening in the world for the last two years and her sister Diana who is tracking a number of the strange religious incidents that have been occurring. All three stories wrap neatly into one another eventually.
Its clear to see early that 1.) The budget is moderate, but not a hinderance and 2.) Carreté has used Mexican superstition and folklore to craft a tense and effective horror movie. The acting is realistic but never cheesy and Carreté knows how to set up tense and atmospheric shots, utilizing empty space, angles and imagery to build the suspense.
Its important to note how much more powerful the film is because of the sound design and direction as well so credit must be given to Jordi Dalmau. Pacing is always another important portion of a movie and its handled well, swiftly switching between horrifying possession sequences to slow burning ghost stories that end up just as chilling as the jump scares.
Asmodexia also feels like a seventies road movie in a lot of ways, with Eloy and Alba travelling through desolate and abandoned cities, all the while performing dangerous exorcisms and running into trouble. Each casting out ends up far more foreboding than the last and its not long before Carreté is tying his story in with the apocalyptic predictions of the ancient Mayans. And then at the end, they a drop a pretty significant twist on you that sheds a whole new light on the movie.
Its a good flick. Its got a few moments that could have been cut shorter and ultimately the scare factor is present but not relevant. Its a good story based steep in Satanic and Mexican folklore and a breath of fresh air.