Belzebuth - Belzebuth [Acorn Media - 2021]
Belzebuth is an action & gore edged ‘dealing with demonic forces’ thriller. It’s very much in the vein of the Omen films, or the later additions in the Exorcist series, blending in tough Mexican cop action and X-file like investigation tropes. From Acorn Media here we have a recent blu ray release of this Shudder channel original film.
Appearing in the year 2017 Belzebuth is a Mexican production- with a mix of Spanish and English dialogue, which it flits back and forth between the films nearing two hours runtime. It was the fourth directing credit from Mexico City-born Emilio Portes. Before this film, he was known for his crazed and colourful Spanish language comedy films like Meet the Head of Juan Pérez (2008), Pastorela (2011), and The Popcorn Chronicles (2014). And it’s fair to say Belzebuth is very much in the thriller/ action side of the horror genre- sure there are creepy and unsettling moments along the way, but the focus here is very much of effects, tense action, and gritty-to-bloody encounters.
The film kicks off with tough, grizzled and large framed Mexican cop Emmanuel Ritter(Joaquín Cosio) sitting with his partner just after she’s given birth to their first child. He gets called out on a job, and sadly while he’s away one of the nursing staff, under some sort of trance, goes into the newborn room, stabbing most of the babies in the room including his own child. We then flash forward five years, and the now, even more, harden and grizzled Ritter is investigating the case of primary school been shot up by an eleven-year-old boy who seemed in some kind of trance. Next, a teacher at a swimming lesson of similar aged kids ties herself to the mains and jumps into the swimming pool full of children. Brought in to help with the investigation is Ivan Franco(Tate Ellington) a priest come paranormal investigator, and they go on the hunt for turned satanic priest Vasilio Canetti( Tobin Bell), as well as protecting one of the last surviving children from the killing sprees.
The film moves and blends elements of demonic investigation, tough cop thriller, gory and violent possession action. Cosio is good as the no-nonsense and bulky cop, managing to go through a fair few emotions over the film's runtime. Bell as always is an imposingly sinister figure with a long white-bearded and satanic symbols tattooed body. The surrounding cast is good enough too. Along the films nearing two-hour runtime, there are a few lags/ slacks in the film's flow, but largely these don’t last too long with the pace/ interest picking up soon enough. Above and beyond the mentioned spree kills we get a few other impressive horror set pieces- and one of these is when a statue of Christ comes to life talking in a mocking/ demonic voice as the statue decays and corrodes.
The Blu Ray disc features nothing more than the film it’s self-and as expected for a modern fairly large budgeted horror thriller the print looks good, though at points the white subtitles are not easy to read- oh how I wish it was standard to use yellow instead of white subs on films!. Anyway a barebones Blu ray, with a good print.
If you are looking for a more thriller/ action focused demonic possession/ the devil up to no good horror film I’d say you’ll enjoy what Belzebuth has to offer. And it’ll certainly be interesting to see if Portes carries down the thriller-horror path with his future directing- as it’ll be neat to see what he does with this blend down the road.Roger Batty