In Emilio Portes’ BELZEBUTH, which just had its North American premiere at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival, we see the events that take place after a special border agent loses his family. In the opening sequence, we witness Emmanuel and his wife, who has just given birth to a beautiful baby. A few moments later, after Emmanuel is called to work, we see a sequence of horrific events unfold as his baby is among the many who are murdered by a seemingly possessed nurse.
A few years later we are reintroduced to Emmanuel, still working as a border agent as he is called upon to investigate a series of killings and murders mostly involving children that seem to somehow be connected to the murder of his baby five years prior. In partnering with a paranormal investigator (who basically mirrors the paranormal investigators from Insidious) the two venture on a mission to try and figure out exactly what is happening. This mission leads them to encounter various demons, a rogue priest played by the Saw franchise’s Tobin Bell, and a huge possessed statue of Jesus; which is truly a WTF moment; and not necessarily in a good way.
Throughout the first two acts of the film, the depictions of murder were definitely working in a way that was reminiscent of the first Sinister movie, particularly the scene in the pool. Once we get to the aforementioned talking Jesus scene though, all bets were off and I was completely taken out of the movie.
Possession movies tend to focus on one sole means of possession, either Satan, a slew of demons, or the antichrist. BELZEBUTH tries to smash them all together in one and ends up feeling convoluted and buries the lead in a sense. There is also a bit where they try to involve the Mexican cartels and the goings on of the drug lord underworld that for me really could have been left out.
Among the other things that were effective in the film was the back and forth between the Spanish and English throughout the dialogue. Being bilingual myself I really enjoyed hearing both languages in a genre that I love. The way the film is shot is also something to be mentioned. The whole movie has a real crime-noire feel in the way that it’s filmed, it’s gritty and dark and it definitely works with the overall content.
With all of this being said, I wouldn’t say that BELZEBUTH was a complete loss, it definitely had its moments and I’m all for a movie about possession, no matter how much it gets buried in an absurd talking Jesus.