Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism (2024)

While being steeped in the horrific, exorcism films offer an odd comfort. They’ll play within the realm of “based on a true story”, and even though heads spin, limbs contort and obscenities are vomited from the deepest pits of Hell, they can give us hope that there is indeed life after death, that even though Satan can exist, so too does Heaven. With Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism, Nick Kozakis’ sophomore outing reminds us, in brutal fashion that demons are very much flesh and blood, that the horrific is all too human, and that Hell is very much a place on Earth. 

Lara (Georgia Eyers) is a woman with an affliction. She’s obviously mentally unwell, needing the care of mental health professionals. Instead, her husband Ron (Dan Ewing) desperately wants Lara’s psychiatrist to “tick a box” so that he can seek the approval for a church sanctioned exorcism. Ron believes Lara to be possessed by more nefarious, supernatural forces and is unwavering in the idea that Lara requires a thoroughly spiritual treatment. When he’s rebuffed by Lara’s doctor, he turns to the leader of his Pentecostal congregation, Barbara (Rosie Traynor) to seek out a religious healer, putting the couple on a collision course with the dangerous and deranged Daniel (Tim Pocock), leading down a path of brutality and tragedy.

Godless is not an easy film. The horror genre is one that allows us to escape in the scare, but here there’s no escape from the reality of the subject matter. Kozakis strives for a more grounded approach which makes the proceedings infinitely more uncomfortable. As he refuses to pull punches – literally and metaphorically – and the dire cricumstances that Lara finds herself in become more so, one can’t help but feel their stomach churn.  The safety of the gaudy nature of horror is nowhere to be found, instead, we’re forced to bare witness to an unyielding set of circumstances, each more brutal than the last, afflicted upon the most defenceless among us, whilst armed with the knowledge that these events do, in fact, happen in pockets of civil society. 

While Kozakis and writer, Alexander Angliss-Wilson, work hard to maintain a sense of dreaded reality, they do trip up into the fantastical and the unreal. For much of the film’s runtime, we’re certain that what Lara is seeing are a result of her mental health issues, however there are moments where the real bleeds into the supernatural. A film like The Exorcism of Emily Rose could almost get away with a such a blurring of the lines, but Godless, doing its best to maintain its “based on a true story” tag, doesn’t have or even give itself the same luxury, and it’s these instances that threaten to rip you away from the reality of the story. 

The film’s real albatross is Tim Pocock. A fine actor, yes, but, again, given the realistic nature that Kozakis and co are striving for, Pocock is a blinding neon sign of villainy. Coming in with a Kubrick-ian understare and obvious malicious intent, if the man had a moustache, he’d twirl it ad infinitum. Having a warmer presence progressively turn nastier over the course of the film OR a warm presence committing these unspeakable acts with a smile of compassion on their face would have been far more horrific and effective. 

Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism is an important but uneasy story to tell. It’s a film for a very specific horror appetite and one not easily recommended. A story you bare witness to rather than simply watch. Just make sure you schedule in self care once the credits roll.

You can now catch Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism on Binge and Shudder

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