Libera Nos (Deliver Us), a documentary chronicling numerous exorcisms, rides an innovative line between being a commentary on the distractions of devout faith and a real-life horror movie. It shook me up like no other film has in years.
The fly-on-the-wall flick is very loose in terms of narrative. In retrospect, Libera Nos (Deliver Us) is a collection of chilling cinéma vérité footage than a movie that tells a story. Viewers sit-in on Catholic Church masses that are supervised by Father Cataldo, a highly-regarded exorcist priest in Palermo, Sicily. Followers gather to Cataldo for various reasons, but mostly because either they – or someone they know – are suffering from demonic possessions. Writer/director Federica Di Giacomo continues her observational film by picking a few patrons to focus more intently on.
The filmmaker doesn’t offer much style, however the impressive cinematography adapts a murky look that builds uncertainty in the doc’s atmosphere – it allows the shadowy corners of Father Cataldo’s church to come alive. The film also doesn’t offer direct answers but, then again, it’s exciting to watch an open-ended movie like this deal with the subjective topic of religion. It’s possible to read into Libera Nos (Deliver Us) as an account of evil acts conducted by Satan (the howls, grunts, and uncontrollable thrashing are creepily convincing), but the filmmaker includes enough background on her selected subjects for the audience to build theories about why these possessions are motivated – choose your path.
You’ve seen all of the worthwhile freaky fare offered to mainstream audiences this year. It’s time to take a chance on an indie like Libera Nos (Deliver Us). It’s an unsettling piece of work I can’t stop thinking about.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie