If I had to use one word to describe Belzebuth it would be unrestrained. While this makes it impressive in some ways, it also means that it could be much improved by further trimming.
Synopsis: After losing his family in an extremely tragic way, Detective Ritter must investigate a massacre at a school perpetrated by a student. What seemed like a pretty clear case becomes much more dense when a priest of the Vatican appears with another point of view.
Belzebuth begins in an incredibly striking way with genuinely shocking scenes at a maternity ward where Detective Ritter (Joaquin Cosio) has just welcomed his baby son into the world. After the tragedy unfolds, we meet Ritter five years later, still dealing with the impact of those events. In addition, there are a number of mass tragedies with multiple fatalities and Ritter is tasked with investigating.
It must be said that the scenes of mass tragedies do have a sense of spectacle and are really well directed. They play into the very real fear of people carrying out horrible acts in public places and the fact that the victims in these cases are often young children really makes them impactful. The ideas are very disturbing but it’s a credit that the scenes are not overly graphic.
Despite the energy involved in bringing the more grisly elements to the screen Belzebuth does struggle with pacing and some of this is due to perhaps using a few too many characters and scenarios to comfortably fit the narrative. With a few sacrifices to make the plot a little leaner it would be a far better experience. Cosio makes for a good lead and he very ably handles everything the narrative demands of him. Tobin Bell’s supporting appearance as a priest with a dark past is also well pitched.
It is difficult not to appreciate Belzebuth for having the confidence to really throw everything at the screen but it does show that sometimes a little bit of restraint goes a long way. Despite this, Belzebuth is well worth checking out as a bold, supernatural horror.
Belzebuth arrives on Shudder US, UK and Canada on August 29th.