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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review: Menéndez: El Día del Señor (The Day Of The Lord)

Director: Santiago Alvarado Ilarri

Screenplay: Santiago Alvarado Ilarri and Ramón Salas

Year: 2020

A retired priest is contacted by a friend to have him perform an exorcism on his daughter, who he is convinced is possessed by a demon. Father Menéndez, who is still struggling with past sins, agrees to perform the ritual. Now he has to put himself together to try and save the young woman from a powerful demon.

Father Menéndez (Juli Fábregas; "[Rec] 2") is not a stranger to demons, as he squares with them several times before. His encounters with demons have had consequences in his life, such as losing his son in the hands of one, for which he had to serve time in jail after being accused of the death. These events have sunk him into consuming alcohol and cigarettes and distorting the real world. 

When Raquel (Ximena Romo; "This Is Not Berlin") arrives at his house along with her father, we doubt that she is really possessed, as her behavior is typical of an adolescent. The first half of the movie is spent getting to know the main characters, which makes this part slow, but where they do a great job of having the audience question the mental integrity of Menéndez. These interactions pave the road to the second half, where Menéndez is set into performing the exorcism.

The second half has an entirely different tone, where a more frantic one replaces the initial slow rhythm and where the visuals put it closer to an exploitation film. The father’s methods for performing the exorcisms are pretty extreme, and thanks to the great special effects, we see every painful detail. So much so that there are some hard to watch uncomfortable scenes, both in violence as in sexual content.

The acting is excellent from the start but is in this second half where they shine. However, the acting and the gore ate not enough to overpower the shortcomings of a predictable and unimaginative plot. In the end, it never goes beyond being just another possession movie. 

"Menéndez: The Day Of The Lord '' presents us with two very different halves, where the first one is mainly exposition, and the second one is almost an exploitation movie. The second part offers good gore and special effects moments that compensate for the initial slow development. However, this Mexican possession movie doesn't offer anything that sets it apart from the rest of the movies in this subgenre.

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