The Exorcism of Carmen Farias Movie Review
Written by Ren Zelen
Released by Invicta Films
Directed by Rodrigo Fiallega
Written by Molo Alcocer Délano
2021, 93 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest International Premiere on 27th August 2021
Camila Sodi as Carmen Farías Hinojosa
Juan Pablo Castañeda as Julián
Juan Carlos Colombo as Padre
Ana Silvia Garza as Mujer en funeral
Lucy Paez as Carmen niña
I must immediately raise my hand and admit I am a sucker for a haunted house movie – malevolent poltergeists, Gothic ghosties and shadowy entities skulking in dark corners are my jam. I must also say that one of the best aspects of each FrightFest is the opportunity to check out various kinds of horror films from all over the globe.
I usually look out for any Asian, Spanish or Central American offerings as I’m particularly partial to their brand of shockers. This year I spotted Rodrigo Fiallega’s Gothic-drenched Mexican film The Exorcism Of Carmen Farias, which is getting its international premiere in London.
Rising Latin star (actress/singer/model) Camila Sodi plays twenty-something journalist Carmen Farias. We join her as, at the beginning of the film, she endures two successive emotional shocks – she is grieving over the miscarriage of her much-wanted baby and then must witness the death of her mother in hospital.
Carmen is holding vigil at the side of her mother’s hospital bed when she hears her mother beg for forgiveness with her dying breath. But is she asking forgiveness from God or from daughter Carmen?
At the reading of her mother’s will, Carmen is surprised to learn that she has inherited her grandmother’s old house, a building she assumed had been sold long ago.
Married for three years to her handsome and loving husband Julián (Juan Pablo Castañeda) she confides in him her sadness at having lost the last of her family and her fear that she may not be able to create one of her own with him.
To help to assuage her grief, Julián suggests that they should have a change of scene. He proposes that they visit her grandmother’s old house to see what condition it is in, and also explore the surrounding area. Carmen, reluctant at first, soon changes her mind and agrees to check out her inherited property.
From this point onwards, much of The Exorcism of Carmen Farias becomes a by-the-numbers haunted-house flick. It is certainly atmospherically filmed by cinematographer Carolina Costa to make most of the creepiness of the old mansion, but soon I began to count off the ‘haunted house’ tropes as they appeared:
- Arrive at the dilapidated house and find it boarded up and mysteriously awkward to get into.
- Take a dog - they will provide an initial warning and serve the purpose of a possible decoy.
- Be sure that the husband/companion is called away after a few days and one is left alone in the creepy house.
- Find long abandoned videotapes (or books, diaries, photos etc…)
- Find dusty but convenient equipment to play old videotapes on and, after being lulled into a sense of security by some innocent home movies, view something shocking or sinister.
- Discover family secrets or hidden artefacts.
- Strange and unsettling incidents escalate.
- There is an obligatory thunderstorm.
- Try to escape the frightening phenomena taking place in the house.
- Get the priest!
After experiencing tropes one to six, Carmen discovers a secret about her grandmother and decides it will make a good story for a feature article. First, she needs to track down a priest that appears on one of the old videotapes she has discovered. She’s pleased he can still be found in the local town, but he is now retired, frail and blind.
After speaking to the Padre (Juan Carlos Colombo) they agree that he will come to the old house for an interview about what used to happen there and the part her grandmother played. However, the interview ends more abruptly than they had planned.
Further revelations take place about Carmen’s childhood and the cause of the Padre’s blindness. Tropes seven to ten kick into action!
The Exorcism of Carmen Farias could certainly have been a better movie – it has a promising central premise; the sinister atmosphere is well conveyed by the pervading darkness of the cinematography, the production design by Fernanda Contreras Ramire and Liz Medrano and the music by Jordi Bachbush and David Rodriguez. Most inexplicably, it foolishly gives away what could have been the surprise twist of the movie in the title of the film itself.
It’s also let down by its use of pretty much all the conventions of the haunted-house horror in its lead up to the climax, which, when it comes, is over far too quickly.
Having said all that, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it despite its shortcomings. The Exorcism of Carmen Farias makes for an entertaining, exotic and none too demanding, popcorn horror flick, and as I’ve already mentioned by way of explanation, I can rarely resist what looks like a good gothic haunting.
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