Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism is not your average exorcism movie. Directed by Nick Kozakis, from a screenplay by Alexander Angliss-Wilson, this supernatural spiritual horror is as much a true crime docudrama as anything else. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, “Hey, Doc. My wife’s got demons in ‘er“. Doc says, “Well that’s probably a manifestation of trauma or undiagnosed mental illness,” but the guy doesn’t believe in medicine, so he hires a back-alley exorcist to torture her to death, and they all lived happily ever after in the sweet embrace of our lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Real-life exorcisms are nothing like what we see in the movies, and they have a history of ending in death. Inspired by true events, Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism follows a deeply religious man named Ron (Dan Ewing) who is seeking a referral from a psychiatrist to obtain a formal, Vatican-sanctioned exorcism for his wife Lara (Georgia Eyers). Lara has been experiencing spooky hallucinations but despite a medication that seems to be helping, Ron is certain that his wife is possessed.
Enter: The Exorcist. Daniel James King (Tim Pocock) is not a sanctioned exorcist, but he has three important qualities. 1) He has a strong, unshakable faith 2) He enjoys hurting people, and 3) He has the support of Ron and Ron’s fellow congregants. It’s a classic set-up for a movie, but a sure-fire recipe for disaster in the real world.
In an interesting turn, the film plays on your expectations of the classic exorcism tropes before slowly revealing its true purpose. That said, there is no a-ha! moment where the normally justified faithful are revealed to be the true villains of this story and for someone like myself, who had no background knowledge of the events that inspired this story, I spent a lot of time wondering whether the movie itself knew who was right and wrong. The film does eventually stake its claim, but until that point you have to rely on its doomed, foreboding score to make any sort of judgement call on who to root for.
As an exorcism movie it was a little rinse-repeat for me, and it’s shift in tone didn’t quite pop! the way I’m sure the movie wanted it to. The “horror” of Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism lies in the in the grim reality of its origin story. Despite a few jump scares and hallucinatory sequences where Lara dances with the devil under a full moon, it’s as much a horror story as your next Netflix binge.
If you’re looking for a little more nightmare imagery in your true crime, this is the movie for you. Fans of religious horror (and lapsed Catholics) will especially enjoy seeing the dark realities of religious extremism. But fair warning, Australian true crime is not known for its happy endings and Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism is no different.
“Australian true crime is not known for its happy endings and Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism is no different.”
Godless: The Eastfield Exorcism celebrated its World Premiere at the 2023 Overlook Film Festival. Click HERE to follow our continued coverage of the festival and let us know all about your favorite Exorcism movies over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.
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[Overlook 2023 Review] True Faith Meets True Crime in Australian Horror GODLESS: THE EASTFIELD EXORCISM
Despite a few jump scares and hallucinatory sequences where Lara dances with the devil under a full moon, it's as much a horror story as your next Netflix binge. If you're looking for a little more nightmare imagery in your true crime, this is the movie for you.