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Belzebuth Review

July 9, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Belzebuth Review  

Belzebuth Review

Joaquin Cosio– Emmanuel Ritter
Tate Ellington– Ivan Franco
Tobin Bell– Vasilio Canetti
Jose Sefami– Demetrio
Yunuen Pardo– Beatriz
Giovanna Zacarias– Leonor
Aurora Gil– Marina Ritter
(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Emilio Portes
Screenplay by Luis Carlos Fuentes and Emilio Portes

Distributed by RLJE Entertainment and Shudder

Not Rated
Runtime– 114 minutes

Buy it here. Also available on Video On Demand and Digital HD


Belzebuth, directed and co-written by Emilio Portes, is an incredibly intense new horror flick that hit Video On Demand, Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray starting July 7th, 2020 (and, I assume, will be available on Shudder at some point). Part heartbreaking police investigation story, part weird as hell demonic possession movie, Belzebuth will freak you the hell out because it’s never quite the movie you expect it to be. You think the movie is going one way and then it goes in a completely different direction. I was completely blown away by it.

Belzebuth stars Joaquin Cosio as Emmanuel Ritter, an emotionally scarred Mexican cop who is investigating a series of shocking mass murders. In fact, Ritter and his now former family are the victims of one of those mass murders, as Ritter’s newborn baby was stabbed to death in the hospital, along with several other newborns, by a whacked out nurse. After a horrific school shooting where a student opened fire on a classroom full of small children, Ritter is forced to work with a special investigation team from the Vatican, something Ritter doesn’t want to do because what the hell is the Vatican going to actually contribute to a police investigation? The lead Vatican investigator, Ivan Franco (Tate Ellington), gets on Ritter’s nerves almost immediately, but then Ritter has to accept the “help” because being a cop is the only thing he has left. Ritter now lives alone (his wife left him) and only seems to have one friend, fellow agent Demetrio (Jose Sefami). It’s not the greatest life.

Now, Ritter has no idea what the hell is going on, but he suspects that whatever is happening has a real world, non-supernatural explanation because the supernatural is bullshit. Franco, though, seems to believe that what’s happening is related to demonic spirits. Franco’s team of investigators and specialists have all sorts of equipment and methods that seem like nonsense, but they seem to offer up more answers than “regular” police work. It seems that way, anyway. Some eyewitnesses identify a weird man covered in satanic tattoos who seems to be near every horrific mass murder when it happens. Who the hell is he? Is he a real person?

Yes, the Satanic tattoo man is a real person, a former priest named Vasilio Canetti (modern horror icon Tobin Bell). Is this guy the leader of a cult? What the hell is his deal?

After a woman named Beatriz (Yunuen Pardo) and her young son are abducted by Canetti and his people right before a guy with a bomb in his backpack blows up a multiplex, Ritter and Franco suspect that these mass murders are connected to something called The Children of God and an abandoned church a few hours away. Ritter and Franco drive to that abandoned church, and it’s there that they find out, conclusively, that what they’re dealing with is supernatural in nature and is pure goddamn evil. They also find out that Canetti isn’t exactly who they think he is.

Belzebuth is a horror flick that never lets up and keeps you off balance throughout its nearly two hour running time. No one is expecting to see a nurse slaughter multiple newborn children in a hospital in any kind of movie, but that’s exactly how Belzebuth starts, and then it keeps surprising by somehow being even more grimly depraved than the last time something horrendous happened. And it’s distressing because the police have no idea what’s going on, and you can’t really trust anything Franco’s Vatican team says because they are engaging in pseudoscience. When the audience finds out that there really is something truly evil going on and that, at least in this cinematic world, the supernatural is real and that Franco can help stop what’s going on, the movie doesn’t become hopeful. There’s a real sense throughout that the bad guys might win, that evil might triumph, and that the world is truly fucked. It’s messed up as hell.

The second half of the movie is all about stopping the great evil and, just like the first half, doesn’t go the way you expect it to. There’s a possession, there are on screen demons, and there’s horrendous violence. There’s also a creepy as hell series of underground tunnels that will energize your claustrophobia if you’re inclined to it. I don’t to describe any more than that because the second half is something you should experience cold. The movie doesn’t progress in the way you expect it to.

Belzebuth features some terrific CGI special effects that, in any other kind of movie, would look ridiculous. There’s also some decent looking practical gore, unless that’s also CGI and you can’t really tell. The overall production design is slick and superb; the movie looks way more expensive than it actually is. And I want to commend director Portes and everyone else involved in the movie for being essentially fearless. I can’t stress enough how insane that opening scene in the hospital is with the nurse and the newborns. It sets the tone for the movie brilliantly and lets you know that Belzebuth will not be pulling any punches. The movie is exploring/examining outright evil and true nastiness. It has to go there in order to explore it properly.

In any other movie, I would likely complain about Belzebuth’s almost two hour running time. If your movie is going to be two hours long it better have enough going on in it to warrant that two hours. Belzebuth warrants the expanded running time. The movie moves deliberately but it never wastes time. Everything in the movie is necessary. The longer running time and the deliberate pace also helps establish a growing sense of dread. The longer it goes on the nastier it’s likely to get. And the Canetti character is going to mess you up. You think he’s one thing but he’s actually something else entirely.


Joaquin Cosio is a revelation as Agent Emmanuel Ritter. At the very beginning of the movie you see him happy and relaxed as his life is in a good place. And then, when his child is murdered everything falls apart. For the rest of the movie you see him trying desperately to keep it all together but, in reality, he’s seconds away from a total meltdown. And you wouldn’t blame him if he did have a total meltdown. Cosio is also physically imposing, adding to the suspense of if and when he will explode. Because if he does explode, man, it’s going to be nasty. Cosio has excellent chemistry with Jose Sefami’s Demetrio. I would love to see them in their own movie as “funny” cops just trying to get through the day. I bet it would work.

Tate Ellington is kind of annoying as Ivan Franco, but I believe he’s supposed to be kind of annoying. He makes Franco so eager to figure out what’s going on you kind of wish that he would become incapacitated somehow. I would like to know just how many investigations he’s led through this special Vatican team. I mean, how often do these demons pop up and whatnot? And how many investigators does the Vatican have? Franco does kind of grow on you towards the end. Sort of.

Yunuen Pardo does a great job as Beatriz, the kidnapped mother. She’s very good at responding to a situation that, in a normal world, would seem absolutely ridiculous. Pardo gives the best performance among the female members of the cast hands down.


And Tobin Bell is freaky as hell as Vasilio Canetti. Bell knows how to add a sense of both mystery and dread to the Canetti character simply by inhabiting it, wearing the hooded jacket and showing everyone the myriad tattoos on his face and body. I do wish he would raise his voice now and then, but that’s just not who Canetti is. He’s a guy that speaks in a low a register as possible. That also adds a sense of mystery to him. Great work from Bell.

Belzebuth is a top notch horror movie through and through. Every element present works to create an unbearably intense atmosphere that will, by the end, freak you out. Don’t be surprised if your mind is exhausted by the end, too. It really is that kind of movie.

See Belzebuth. See it, see it, see it!


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Around 40, but way more than that if you count the number of dead in the movie theater explosion. Way more.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A guy walking in the desert, some bullshit about demonology, tattoos, a cop in a hospital using a flip phone, door locking, off screen baby killing, self-inflicted throat slitting, serious sorrow, booze drinking, a time jump, news about a school shooting, cockroach attack, a sad and nasty crime scene, attempted police interrogation, hilarious police corruption, weird handprints everywhere, a walk with prostitutes, a swimming class, attempted public pool mass electrocution, more weird handprints everywhere, strange sounds, talk of black magic, a frightening room event, a guy sleeping with a gun under his pillow, kidnaping, exploding movie theater, talk of drugs, corruption, and fear, a weird abandoned church three hours away, a priest with a handgun, weird markings on the floor, a rat, a creepy child’s laugh, multiple small wooden crosses, a nasty smell (or so we’re told), an overturned sculpture, a talking thing that shouldn’t be talking, an upsetting apparition, a worm filled baby, shooting, serious face punching, water bottle hooey, a history lesson, talk of a “divine plan,” drug tunnels, a possession, attempted exorcism, pickaxe to the side of the head, multiple Taser incidents, running, bullet to the gut, face kicking, rock to the back of the head, a fucking crucifixion, holy water hooey, a brutal exorcism, attempted suffocation via flying sheets, scorpions, levitation, a special knife, demon shots, burning, bloody hands, glowing tattoos, rock bullshit, exploding tunnel, a school that’s on fire, and an almost hopeful ending. Almost.

Kim Richards?: Big time. Jesus Christ.

Gratuitous: Tobin Bell, Tobin Bell on the USA/Mexico border, body identification, police interrogation, hilarious police corruption, a paranormal forensics team, EVP bullshit, pseudo-scientific equipment that somehow works in this particular cinematic world, a police guilt trip, Tarot card bullshit, exploding movie theater, an overturned sculpture, Asian border helpers in Mexico, terrifying tunnels, a fucking crucifixion, a special knife, glowing tattoos, an almost hopeful ending (almost), and a brief scene during the end credits that seems to think it means something but which escapes me.

Best lines: “Look at him. He’s so pretty,” “I had a nightmare,” “Mother fucking Chief Najera!,” “Boss, the gringo forensics team is here,” “Student cartels? How do you come up with this crap?,” “I think he was into some Satanic shit,” “I hope this is not drug cartel related or part of a sect,” “How much is Najera paying you for this bullshit?,” “We’re cops not stupid,” “Come on! Aren’t you a psychic?,” “What’s going on? Did your daughter mess up your cards?,” “Ritter. Make peace with your lord,” “The priest! The priest was here!,” “In Mexico, even atheists are believers,” “It’s just a rat,” “Something smells very rotten in here,” “I just want the killings to stop!,” “Don’t listen to it!,” “Ritter! That’s not your wife!,” “What the fuck did you do?,” “And the enemy is doing everything it can to kill him again,” “See you on the other side,” “Where do you think this leads? I don’t know,” “Drugs and guns are clearly not all that was moved through here,” “So, you took one for the team? You can put it that way if you want to,” “Please do not touch these things,” “This man is possessed!,” “Pluck his eyes out! Pluck his eyes out!,” “Do not stop praying!,” and “Did you really believe that you were the mother of God?”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Belzebuth is a top notch, messed up horror flick. You think it’s going to progress in one direction, but it decides to go off in another. At times, its intensity is unbearable. The movie also doesn’t pull any punches or play favorites with anyone or anything. Everyone is fair game for the evil that inhabits this cinematic world. You have to prepare yourself for that reality. Amazing performances from stars Joaquin Cosio and Tobin Bell. Belzebuth is available on Video On Demand, Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray starting July 7th, 2020 (it will also be available on Shudder at some point). Belzebuth is amazing. It will scare you. Horror movie fans will no doubt love it. See it, see it, see it!

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Belzebuth, Bryan Kristopowitz