The disgraced priest paints a white cross underneath his welcome mat to let us know he’s done this before.
And the former Padre Menéndez breaks out the cattle prod, the hammer, a couple of monkey wrenches and the brass knuckles, it’s to let the Devil know he means business.
The Mexican exorcism thriller “The Day of the Lord (Menéndez: El Dia del Señor)” reminds me of that Thomas Hobbes quotation from the poem “Leviathan.” Like mankind’s fate in life, this grim and gory thriller is “nasty, brutish and short.”
And as the Mexican version of the film has “Parte 1” in the title, the “short” part doesn’t fit. More’s the pity, because more is coming.
Juli Fábregas plays the two-fisted priest, a man we meet, broken and alone, hiding from the shame that headlines tell us that he went to prison for murder, something we don’t understand until those monkey wrenches come out.
There was a woman. We see her in his nightmares, tempting him like Satan herself. There was a little boy.
In those night terrors, even the crucifixes scream at Menéndez.
Héctor Illanes plays an old friend who begs for help. “My daughter has the horned Devil inside her,” he pleads, offering the defrocked padre a drink (in Spanish with English subtitles). Maybe it’s the booze talking, but there’s nothing for it but for Menéndez to agree to doing what he’s done many times before.
Ximena Romo commits, and I mean throws herself into the part of Raquel, who insists she’s just another rebellious teen girl, “a very foul-mouthed teenager” the former priest agrees. But her Dad saw the decapitated cat. This is no ordinary quinceañera survivor.
She curses him, calls him a “dirty old man,” does her special teen dance for him in an effort to throw him off his game.
“She’s a carcass who houses the Devil,” Menéndez hisses to her father. Time to get the brass knuckles out.
Let the savage beatings begin. No, this isn’t the stern and saintly exorcist of Max Von Sydow, or even the charlatan tested by The Real Thing in “The Cleansing Hour.” This is the torture porn version of an exorcism movie.
It’s a horrifically rough ride, and rather pointlessly so. I’m surprised the Catholic Church hasn’t protested this, as the last thing they need is an another abusive priest tale, this one “excused” because he’s fighting Satan.
At several points, the tables turn and the torturer who uses “Inquisition” chains to restrain the Beast, is tied up. He gets free.
“I guess they didn’t teach you KNOTS in HELL!”
Engaging performances aside, even with a moment of tooth-grinding levity here and there, “The Day of the Lord” isn’t doing the demonic possession genre any favors by turning its actors into bloody pulps via abuse, torture and pummelings. I’ll stick to the pea soup, thanks.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, graphic violence, sexual situations, profanity
Cast: Juli Fábregas, Ximena Romo, Héctor Illanes
Credits: Written and directed by Santiago Alvarado Ilarri. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:30