Genre In a Rut: The True Story
Main Cast: Renato Siqueira
Director: Renato Siqueira
There’s a list of movies I will always watch, no matter what. I love ghost stories, I love UFO stories, I love found footage movies, and I love exorcism movies. You put “exorcist” or “exorcism” somewhere in your title, and I’m gonna watch it. If I could find a movie that was about ghosts, UFOs, and exorcisms, and was told in the found footage format, that would be my favorite movie of all time.
But just because I’ll always watch these kinds of movies doesn’t automatically make them great movies. For example, Diary of An Exorcist–Zero, from 2016, written and directed by Renato Siqueira. I don’t know why “Zero” is part of the title. Maybe this is a prequel to an already established series? I have no idea.
The story is pretty interesting. Father Lucas (played by Siqueira) is being interviewed by a couple of film students who want to make a documentary about his life as a exorcist. So we flash back to when young Lucas Vidal watched his father, in a moment of respite from the demon that was possessing him, took his own life. Lucas grows up to be Father Lucas and, having caught the eye of a pair of rather famous exorcists in the area, is groomed to take over their mantle as the brothers Biaggio are getting up there in years.
Father Lucas has some extraordinary luck with his first attempt, which results in the death of one of the Biaggio brothers, but frees a woman from the clutches of a demon. Later, Father Lucas is called to his sister’s side by his brother-in-law who insists there’s something wrong with Paula. Father Lucas tries to reassure him that Paula is a fine, God-fearing woman, nothing ungodly could ever harm her. Until he sees her and his greatest fears are realized.
But even that is nothing compared to what happens later when his mentor, the remaining Father Biaggio, attacks him and ties Father Lucas up in his basement.
Diary of An Exorcist–Zero isn’t a terrible movie. It’s well-made, considering the budget, and the acting is passable. Nothing special on either end. My main problem with this movie was the dialogue, but I think a lot of that rests on the translation. The movie is in Portuguese, with English subtitles, but clearly whoever was translating these subtitles had only the barest grasp on either English or Portuguese, because the language is not only stiff and clumsy, but several times you have to sort of untie the knot of what the subtitles SAY to get at what the subtitles MEAN.
The trials leading up to how Father Lucas achieved his status as a professional exorcist were original and not where I thought the story was going to go at all.
The special effects were decent enough, but let’s face it, ANY exorcism movie that uses any kind of make-up or digital effects is going to be compared to The Exorcist, it’s just unavoidable. In that regard, Diary of An Exorcist–Zero is mediocre. Most of the effects seem to be digital, and not as well-rendered as I would hope, but I get the general idea of where they were heading with them. I definitely think exorcism movies need to STOP showing the spider-walk. It worked ONCE, when The Exorcist special edition re-inserted it. It’s not scary anymore, it just comes across now as weak and pathetic. Exorcism movies, I believe, still have the potential to be scary, but only when they stop trying to copy the most famous movie of the sub-genre, and start doing something ORIGINAL.
I can’t say I’d ever bother watching this movie again, but I won’t go so far as to say I regret the 90+ minutes I spent on it today. I’ve definitely seen worse. But I am glad I saw it on Netflix and don’t actually own it. It was at the top of my queue and I watched it, but I do not need to have a place on my shelf.
I can see where Siqueira’s heart was, but the execution was slightly lacking. This film is from 2016, but looks like it was made on the cheap twenty years ago. Someone needs to remember, next time, to turn off the smooth-motion feature so the movie doesn’t look so much like a soap opera.
Other than that, the movie had its good points. I liked the originality in the plot points, the cast did their best with what they had. It wasn’t a terrible movie. It just wasn’t The Exorcist, but it clearly, desperately, wanted to be. I love this sub-genre, but it’s in serious need of some new blood and new ideas.
(this movie is currently unavailable on DVD, but can be streamed on Amazon Video or Netflix.)