Return of the Exorcists

Return of the Exorcists

There are a few telling scenes in The Return of the Exorcists, a documentary about the resurgence of popularity of the practice of exorcism in Italy. But they aren’t what you might expect.

The first: a busy priest sits in front of a computer, clicking away on the mouse. He’s discussing the case of a person who might be possessed by Satan on the phone. When he hangs up we see the computer screen, which is broken. The exorcist was clicking on an empty screen.

The second scene takes place in a church whose leaders and parishioners are part of the Charismatic Movement. At this particular church you have to take a number to get an exorcism – it’s like being at a deli, but instead of getting roast beef or low-salt ham, you get exorcised.

I suppose you can tell what I think of Return of the Exorcists. I am not Catholic; I was brought up Lutheran. I am now agnostic. This documentary is not really for horror fans unless you are super-interested in exorcism. Even then, the documentary doesn’t go into much detail and at points outright contradicts itself.

We learn that possessed people go into trances. A priest tells us about the possessed woman who almost levitated. Of course, there isn’t any film of this. We do see footage of a number of disturbed people who may or may not be possessed. The filmmakers talk to a woman who has been going to an exorcist for years and now only cooks with olive oil and salt blessed by an exorcist.

The Return of the Exorcists isn’t interested in these people. The focus is on the men who perform the exorcisms, who are the real stars of the show. Or – depending on your point of view – the sideshow.

If you need your exorcism fix, watch The Exorcist again.

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