REVIEW: The Exorcism of Carmen Farias a.k.a. El Exorcismo de Carmen Farías (2021)

dir. Rodrigo Fiallega

After her mother’s death, reporter Carmen (Camila Sodi) discovers she’s inherited her grandmother’s old house, a property she believed was sold long ago. She moves in, wishing to discover more about her family, although her arrival unlocks dark secrets her ancestors wished to keep hidden for her own safety.

From wax in the front lock to tags covering the house’s exterior – and especially a creepy self-portrait displayed prominently inside – warning sides are littered throughout. These red flags should send Carmen packing, but instead serve as inspiration to this journalist itching for a story. Discovering tapes from her grandmother’s past offers hope of connecting with her family’s past, leading her down an unsettling path that forces Carmen to come to terms with her trauma whilst uncovering horrific things she’d previously blocked out.

Director Fiallega racks up a creeping atmosphere that promises so much, only for disappointing reveals to let things down with repeated lacklustre pay-offs – an appropriate summation of the film as a whole. It doesn’t help that the story falls on tired horror tropes from the exorcism subgenre, complete with glaring visual effects. Where the narrative initially offered insight into one woman’s trauma – as somebody who lost so much and worries she’ll be the last of her family – the by-the-numbers finale sees her grief side-lined in a disappointing denouement.

⭐⭐

James Rodrigues

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