This review was originally published, under its original title Libera Nos, as part of my coverage of Hot Docs 2017
The daily routines of a Sicilian exorcist is observed in Deliver Us. Over the past number of years, the requests to the Catholic Church for the rite of exorcism has been on the rise, to the point where exorcism conferences are held in Rome. Father Cataldo is a veteran exorcist, who regularly performs the rite at his church in Sicily. On average, there are at least eight people who attend Father Cataldo’s masses, hoping to be cured of the demons they believe are possessing them.
While many people are familiar with exorcisms through their portrayal in horror films, particularly The Exorcist, the rite is a very real and active part of the Catholic religion. Filmmaker Federica Di Giacomo sets out to capture the rite of exorcism with as objective a portrayal as possible, opting for an observation structure, with little to no opinions about exorcisms themselves and whether they belong in the modern age.
Because Deliver Us is an observational documentary, viewers are allowed to interpret what they see on screen in any way they please. True believers will see disturbing video evidence of demonic possession, while more secular people will probably see seriously mentally ill people and a priest doing actions that may be considered laughable. Either way, Deliver Us is a very fascinating look at the rite of exorcism in action.