Horror fans on average likely could name at least five possession and exorcism theme films, with The Exorcist near the very top of the list, and for many this movie dominates critical acclaims constantly, the book still sells and the film produced a franchise and television series. However, it also brought forth condemnation of many religious leaders and followers for the demonic influences, which later inspired the telling of The Conjuring (2013) and even the crusader flick Deliver Us from Evil (2014). Director Federica Di Giacomo presents pure an observatory documentary with no questions or interference of the today’s exorcists in movie Libera Nos (also known as Liberami or Deliver Us) set in Italy and distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment. The film allows the viewer t make up their own mind the topic of the demons, possessions and parishioners who believe unholy spirits control them as well as those who battle them.
The main portion of the documentary sets itself in Palermo, Sicily with the focus on a Franciscan Father Cataldo Migliazzo, he conducts Exorcism Masses to free and rescue people from demon spirits often referring to them as Satan, and not a typical demon name. The lines for the service start early each family vying for the chance to meet the dear father, which often comes with stipulation those who traveled furthest away sees him first. Father Cataldo’s battles and knowledge sought by many and celebrated often, he’s a man short on words, abrupt, and quick to assign blame. At the 21.30 mark at the mass, the Father states there’s 6, 7, or 8 or more possessed people damaged and cursed, which seems to start resembling a TV evangelist sermon of people reacting violently to touch the cross. Those individuals either escorted or carried into a separate room, where the possessed gather together (strength in numbers?) and await the mass exorcism.
Father Migliazzo does inform his beliefs of why many are subject to evil forces. However it extends further with victim blaming. For example, mother fears a relative might inappropriately touch her son, once more the Father takes the position of not worry about the evil of others, but rather what her son did to invite the evil. He stresses that one finds this situation most undoubtedly because they (the victim) strayed from god. This documentary generates many WTF moments, again neither the director nor the crew ever question anything. Sometimes the answer to an exorcism is no when it comes to children, but with adults when clearly someone appears to have mental disorder and the rites invoked, often to the same people over and over. The viewer learns that devil can and goes freely, and return to harm often, regardless of how many times the rites performed.
As many horror fans know, the rites of exorcism call for the demon to give up their name, which is often half the battle, however in this documentary no one ever asks for the demon’s name and always casting out Satan, as all possessed by Satan himself. In addition, the lack of medical direction comes up once, however, dismissed often, likely perhaps not available to the common person. The mental treatment often casts negativity to a person and isolates them further by many people in society including the educated. Father Cataldo enters an afflicted’s home and commands all wealth removed, wants stacked clothing on a bed destroyed because the devil lurks in it. It is this aspect which hints back to a forgotten old tradition of an old world view. However, one needs to see the film as he destroys a valuable painting of the Virgin Mary with lots of Holy Water and his exorcism via cell phone (TWICE)!
By the end of the documentary, one learns that the belief in what exactly constitutes as the demon (Satan) possessions mimicking demon speak, rolling eyes, dressing inappropriate, stretching voices, a lucky charm (holy medal not included), the strength to throw a plastic deck chair. This also extends to cervical pains, dizziness, tiredness, sleepiness, exhaustion, headaches, and lack of balance all indicators of possession too.
If anyone believes that evil doesn’t exist in the world, unsure how they define the topic, the wars, the Holocaust, Inquisitions, and Trials of the Innocent, it all adds up quickly of the destruction of humankind. However this documentary does a fair share of women and child blaming, and never comes to resonating conclusion on a subject, with the exorcisms thoroughly mundane. The Vatican preparing a call center to handle the requests for exorcisms, though Father Cataldo possesses the ability for cell phone rites that likely can help with the rising demon occurrences. Therefore, one needs to decide for themselves what they believe if exorcism or mental health treatment. At least the close out song a catchy tune from Dead Man’s Bones “Lose Your Soul”, a band whose music heard in The Conjuring (2013).
IMDb Rating: 6.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 5/10
Dead Man’s Bones – Lose Your Soul Track: