Blog Post

What’s It Like to Film an Exorcism?

William Friedkin, the legendary director of The Exorcist, recently filmed an actual exorcism and when asked what it was like he said it was “terrifying” and it shook him to his core.

Variety is reporting on Friedkin’s new documentary entitled The Devil and Father Amorth which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and features the late Father Amorth as he performed an exorcism on an Italian woman.

Friedkin said he was familiar with Father Amorth’s books on the subject and knew that he was “kindly disposed” to the movie, The Exorcist, even though he thought the special effects were “over the top.” One day Friedkin had an idea about contacting Father Amorth.

“This idea just popped into my head. I call it providential. I had an inner voice that said to me, ‘I wonder if I could meet Father Amorth?’”

He decided to give it a try and was shocked when Father Amorth agreed to meet with him.

“I had no idea that I would ever be able to even meet with him,” Friedkin said. “I did know how busy he was. He was doing exorcisms all day every day right up until he went into the hospital and then died [in September 2016].”

Looking back on it, he believes he came along at the right time. Father Amorth was urging the Vatican to train more exorcists and believed Friedkin had enough cachet to bring the story more fully into the public.

“I had to shoot it alone, obviously. The conditions were that I come along with no crew and no lights," Friedkin explained. "So I used a Sony still camera that shot high-definition video. I had only that camera running and I was about two feet away from them, probably even closer.”

He filmed the ninth exorcism on a woman who was receiving about one exorcism a month by Father Amorth.

“It was terrifying. I went from being afraid of what could happen to feeling a great deal of empathy with this woman’s pain and suffering, which is obvious in the film.”

Afterward, he consulted with neurologists, brain surgeons, some of the best in the United States and none of them had any idea what was wrong with her, nor would they recommend any surgery.

“They believe that everything originates in the brain but — and they say this in the film — they have never seen anything quite like these symptoms….Then the psychiatrists…all described how psychiatry now recognizes demonic possession. It’s called dissociative identity disorder/demonic possession. And if a patient comes in and says they are possessed by a demon or a devil, they don’t tell them that they are not….They do whatever psychiatric treatment they think is necessary, including medication. And they bring an exorcist in.”

Too many people still don't believe the devil is real. We can only pray that a documentary like this might change their minds.