Last year I wrote an article about why owning a subscription to the streaming service Shudder was a great idea for any horror fan. While I may have de-activated my own personal account since that writing, I still stand by everything I said. They offer great content covering all facets of the genre and thankfully, unlike some other streaming platforms out there, they actually release some of their content in physical format. One of the latest to receive this treatment is Emilio Portes’ Belzebuth.
Years after the brutal murder of his newborn baby, Detective Emmanuel Ritter (Joaquin Cosio, Rambo: Last Blood) must investigate a string of equally violent crimes. When a priest and the Vatican get involved, he quickly learns there is more to these events than meets the eye.
There are certain sub-genres of horror that are done way more than others. We’ve seen plenty of zombie flicks and ghost stories, slashers and found footage films, but I can really only think of a little more than a handful of possession movies that are worth remembering. Naturally, when I learned of Belzebuth, I knew I needed to give this 2017 title a fair chance. After all, I am always down for more great horror.
Set in Mexico and featuring a Spanish and English speaking cast, Belzebuth has a lot going for it. With a cast lead by Tobin Bell of Saw fame and veteran Mexican-born actor, Joaquin Cosio, there is tons of talent packed into this film’s 114 minutes.
Sporting a long white beard and more facial tattoos than your average modern-day rapper, Bell does a wonderful job with his role as excommunicated priest, Vasilio Canetti. Here, he proves that he can do more than just be the mastermind behind some rather elaborate punishment puzzles, flexing his acting chops as the one and only man who knows the truth behind the savage murders taking place all over Mexico.
Cosio’s Emmanuel is a man wrought by his own tragedy, but still manages to be the best at his job. Being the only natural choice to lead these seemingly random cases of a school shooting, a movie theater suicide bomber, and more, Emmanuel must relive his trauma over again. Cosio’s ability to emote is astounding throughout the film and he really is a great choice to play this character. He is someone the audience can relate to, struggling between being a non-believer or someone of faith, and someone who they can root for as well.
Exorcism movies don’t necessarily need to be the most gory films to get their points across, but that does not stop co-writer and director Portes from straying away from it either. Rather early on, Belzebuth dives headfirst into scenes of extremely disturbing events, some that I’m sure will upset some audience members profoundly, illustrating just how far Portes is willing to take things to tell his story. Aside from some unnecessary digitally rendered blood splattering towards the end of the film, all of the bloodshed seen throughout the film is rather impressive. With a mix of both practical and digital effects, Belzebuth is way more spectacular than it is disappointing, making me jump for joy more than once at what I was witnessing.
Belzebuth at Home
As I mentioned earlier, Belzebuth is readily available to stream on Shudder. If you are like me, however, and prefer to own your horror on physical format, be sure to pick up a copy on DVD or Blu-ray, available today from RLJE Films.
On both the DVD and Blu-ray home releases, the film is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen format. The Blu-ray features an English/Spanish DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio track, while the DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Both formats include optional Spanish and English subtitles. Unfortunately, there are no special features included with the film.
There have been some pretty entertaining possession films to come out over the years (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Devil Inside, The Taking of Deborah Logan) and I am happy to report that Belzebuth is another that we can add to that list. It features a great cast, impressive special effects, an entertaining twist on what we’ve come to expect from our supernatural movies, and one Hell of a culminating exorcism that you won’t want to miss out on.
There will never be another The Exorcist, but that’s okay. We don’t need another of those. We just need good films from start to finish that are worth our time. That is exactly what we have with this.
Make sure you check this one out for yourself, as I give Belzebuth 4 psychophonies out of 5.