Friday, October 6, 2017

#2,436. Asmodexia (2014)

Directed By: James Rasin

Starring: Candy Darling, Andy Warhol, Holly Woodlawn

AKA: In Peru, the movie's title was changed to Disciples of Evil

Premiere: Premiered at the 2014 Brussels Festival of Fantastic Films

Asmodexia is a movie I happened upon by chance; the trailer for this Spanish horror film is one of several featured on the DVD for Inner Demons and played just before that 2014 movie started. Based on this preview alone, Asmodexia looked like it might offer a different spin on the possession subgenre, and I figured it was worth a watch.

Yet not even the trailer could prepare me for how unique this film truly is, and while I was definitely drawn into the movie and even blown away a little by the various twists and turns its story took, I ultimately admired Asmodexia more than I actually liked it.

Eloy (Lluís Marco) and his granddaughter Alba (Clàudia Pons) travel the countryside, helping those who have been possessed by malevolent spirits (While Eloy is definitely the driving force behind this mission of mercy, It’s Alba who dispels the unwanted entities). The two make their way from village to village, reuniting with many of Eloy’s former followers as they cleanse the possessed, while Ona (Irene Montalà), herself a past disciple of Eloy’s, rots away in a mental institution, where sinister forces have been making their presence known on an almost daily basis.

Eloy believes the sharp increase in supernatural activity (which coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar) signifies the beginning of what he calls a “New Resurrection”, one that is destined to change the world. But as this day of reckoning approaches, Eloy and Alba must confront a select few who have sworn to do everything in their power to prevent the “second coming” from ever happening.

Directed by Marc Carreté, Asmodexia is a movie that demands both your patience and your undivided attention as it pieces its rather complex story together. Soon after the opening sequence, during which a possessed woman gives birth, Asmodexia branches off in a number of different directions; along with Eloy’s and Alba’s exorcisms, the film dedicates a fair portion of its time to Ona and the spirits that have invaded her mental facility; and there’s another subplot involving Ona’s sister Diana (Marta Belmonte), a police inspector who, like Ona, once followed Eloy and is now trying to figure out what is happening, and why.

Each of these storylines unfolds slowly, so much so that by the time the movie reached the one-hour mark I still had more questions than I did answers (a video from several years earlier, which features Eloy, Ona and Diana, is shown at various intervals throughout the film, giving us hope that there is, indeed, a common thread connecting the movie’s characters while at the same time offering very few clues as to what might have transpired between them).

It isn’t until the last 10 minutes or so that Asmodexia finally ties everything together, and the finale definitely took me by surprise. Yet even as I sat there, marveling at how effectively the film had pulled the wool over my eyes, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the journey itself wasn’t as satisfying, and that director Carreté as well as his co-screenwriter Mike Hostench had guarded their secrets a bit too jealously early on, giving us just enough to keep us watching but not nearly enough to make us care about what was going on.

And that, I’m afraid, is how I felt once Asmodexia was over: I was impressed, but I didn’t really give a damn.

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