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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: Joaquín Cosío and Tobin Bell
Distributor: Acorn Media International
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 13 September 2021

Acorn Media International releases Belzebuth, one of many Shudder Original horror films. In this Exorcist-like Mexican/English tale of the ultimate battle between good and evil, Special Agent Emmanuel Ritter (played by Joaquin Cosio from Quantum of Solace) suffers the devastating experience of seeing his new-born baby stabbed to death in a frenzied knife attack. There is little respite, however, when he is drawn into investigating a series of attacks on groups of children. The one common factor appears to be the presence of an old priest (played by Tobin Bell from the Saw films), marked with strange symbols, at or near each incident. When he tracks the man down with the help of a representative of The Vatican (Tate Ellington) it is to discover he is harbouring a woman and her son who might just be the Second Coming. So begins a battle with the most dangerous demon of them all...

This is a definite game of two halves. After the initial shock of the baby’s death, the events turn low-key for some time. It’s more of a claustrophobic pot-boiler wherein we are introduced to characters such as Ritter’s police colleague and others which will prove important. Naturally, much is made of Ritter’s character and continued internal mourning to prove he is an honest and essentially good person. Even the incidents involving the deaths of several young children are visited in the aftermath, rather than as they happen. It is only when the ‘crazy’ priest finds him (rather than the other way around) that the importance of a child he is protecting is revealed. Whereas nothing had made much sense up to this point, suddenly the plot is blown wide open. By now we know the characters well – or at least we think we do, and realise this has been happening without our knowledge.

From this moment onwards, everything is eerie, intriguing and frightening. Literally, anything can happen, as the very well executed scenes of possession involve not just a person but inanimate objects too. It’s also left ambiguous as to what the real motives of the old priest are. Nobody can be trusted, and that means moments of genuine unease are created. It has elements of Terminator 2: Judgment Day about the epilogue. There is only one thing which is unrealistic about the ending: nobody seems to be even the slightest bit sad, upset or in any way regretful that one of the main players in the plot has been killed. Not even the child who is supposed to be – we discover – the third coming of Christ.

Belzebuth evolves into a better film than we realise early on, and incorporates real tension in the latter scenes. But where are the extras? A behind-the-scenes documentary and a commentary should be standard in this day and age.


Ty Power

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