★ / ★★★★
Written by Marc Carreté and Mike Hostench, “Asmodexia” is a confusing and poorly executed horror film with bland characters defined by their behaviors because they are essentially cardboard cutouts. Although clocking in at only eighty minutes, I’ve seen compelling three- and four-hour films that feel significantly shorter. This picture does not belong at the bottom of the barrel but underneath it.
Alba (Clàudia Pons) and her grandfather named Eloy (Lluís Marco) do a lot of walking around Barcelona and occasionally receive requests for help. We learn that the people they visit cannot leave their properties as long as there is a demonic possession within the area. Alba and Eloy have encountered many cases. Although each possession is different, not much surprises them anymore. Meanwhile, there is a countdown that pops up on screen every fifteen to twenty minutes that informs the number of days left prior to The Resurrection.
The film offers not one good scare. Scenes that showcase demonic possessions are mere regurgitations of images and tactics we have seen plenty of times before. Voices are altered. Bodies levitate. The possessed is buried under heavy and gross-looking makeup. During exorcisms, however, we feel nothing. Eloy and Alba go from one place to another but the screenplay fails to gather the necessary tension that would then build up to a catharsis.
Unnecessary subplots are abound. There is a woman named Ona (Irene Montalà) who has been confined in a mental institution for a decade and a half. As the number of days until The Resurrection dwindles, orderlies and nurses begin to get sick. The rest of the staff are afraid that they might be next. There is an investigator (Marta Belmonte) but her case is so vague that we do not know for sure if she is hunting for the driver of a black van or the targets of the driver of the vehicle in question.
If the material is unable to straighten out what a character is supposed to be doing and communicate that to us clearly, it is an indication that it is a bad movie. I grew so frustrated with what was happening that I tried to experience the film on a sensory level. For instance, I tried to appreciate how the environment looked, if the lighting was able to create a specific mood, if the camera angles employed altered how we processed what was going on, and if the clothes the characters were wearing communicated something about them. Alas, despite my efforts, I found nothing exciting or anything worth mentioning.
The experience of watching “Asmodexia,” directed by Marc Carreté, is almost as bad as staring at a staticky television screen for ninety minutes. I say “almost” because the movie is ten minutes shorter than an hour and a half.