Director: Marc Carrete
Starring: Irene Montala, Marina Duran
Review by: Vincent Daemon
Whilst galloping through Netflix the other night, I decided to run through my (rather long) “to be watched” list. I was looking for something decidedly different, when I happened across a film that I’ve been wanting to watch for some time now, but just haven’t had the chance. It’s subtitled, and as of late (due to an extenuating set of outlying circumstances) I just haven’t had the attention span for that. But this night, however, did indeed enable me that time.
The name of this film? ASMODEXIA, the 2014 debut of spanish filmmaker (and co-writer, along with Mike Hostench) Marc Carrete. And my opinion of this debut? Muchas gracias, Senior Carrete, for bringing something truly different to the international horror community.
Not entirely without some minor faults of vaguery that lay embedded deep within the storyline (some of which may in fact be intentional), this is the best “possession” film I’ve seen since 2010’s unnerving found-footage film THE LAST EXORCISM, and 1995’s hysterically brilliant and horrific DAY OF THE BEAST, directed by (one of my personal favorites) Alex de la Iglesia, before that.
ASMODEXIA tells a strange and evermore startling tale of a Grandfather and his beautiful, late-teens/early-twenties granddaughter, who roam the various parched wastes of everywhere from Madrid to Barcelona and everywhere in between, conducting violent, mucousy, intense exorcisms, though of a strikingly vague nature. And in that way, it is a film that requires fully uninterrupted attention.
I’m not really going to dispel any of the plot, as that would be incredibly difficult to do within the span of this review, but I will say that all is not as it seems, and a bit of a prior knowledge about the belief systems and philosophies of Gnosticism, Thelema, Luciferianism, and general religion versus the occult wouldn’t hurt, either. Nor would being able to decipher a bit of Latin (which I also can, to a degree - - - enough to get the general gist of what exactly is being invoked). The film is incredibly deep, twisting, as there is to be a “Resurrection” of a god, though that Being is never named, lending a slight Lovecraftian tone to the proceedings that only increases in its own understatement as the film progresses, especially when certain cult and familial lineages are introduced and brought to fruition (I only say that as I guessed some things a few minutes in and happened to be correct). That’s is all I will say about the incredibly well thought, intelligent, and perfectly-confusingly structured plot of the film.
There are certain tropes “infectious,” even inherent, within the recently resuscitated Possession/Exorcist-genre of the horror film, some that one would think seemingly unavoidable, yet Carete & Hostench seem to have done so very well. This is NOT your typical God vs. Satan film. In fact, neither are even mentioned, not once (Lucifer & Jesus are, once and only once, but their fathers - - - never). Add to that the fact that this peculiar “Resurrection” is occurring on 12/21/12 (the long-past Mayan calendar date of Apocalypse, for those who’ve already forgotten), I found, only made the film that much more intriguing.
Visually speaking, the film is striking in all aspects. The angles, the lighting, the various sigils, background pieces, and scenery all bordering at times on some seriously IGLESIAS/JODOROWSKY territory, the surreal becoming completely real, and keeping one (at least myself) riveted to the couch. For all you gorehounds out there, there’s not a whole lot, but for an horrifically grotesque (both visually and psychologically) scene in the beginning, and some other surprises I won’t mention spattered here and there. However, there is a good bit of F/X work done on the possessed that looks fantastic, and is a rather different and particularly gruesome look for the demon-infected. Also, the CG seemed to be kept to a bare minimum, used more for enhancement than effect itself.
I highly recommend ASMODEXIA to fans of artful, thought-inducing, bizarro possession-genre flicks. For those who dislike subtitles, as it is in Spanish, get some patience and an attention span. This film is worth it. Currently, it’s streaming on Netflix, as noted in the initial paragraph of this review. Otherwise, seek this out somewhere, you shan’t be disappointed. Also, to finish on a sidenote, I must say pretty much every woman in this film is uniquely stunning, particularly IRENE MONTALA (who plays “Ona”- - - good god, heh.)
Thanks for reading, Peace 93,