One would think that with all the movies about exorcisms out there, priests are performing them every single day, possibly right now. Clarita is yet another in a line of exorcism films based on true events. Clarita Villanueva is the subject of one of the more famous real-life exorcism cases which took place in the Philippines in 1953. When researching the actual case, it seems as though Ms. Villanueva was covered in mysterious bites and eventually became exorcised by a Protestant pastor named Lester Sumerall.
Clarita sensationalizes the story into something much bigger and scarier, stating that Clarita (Jodi Santa Maria) grew up with a mother who was into occult healing practices that brought about her possession. There are also multiple deaths and injuries said to have been instigated by the demon that possessed her. Lester Sumerall is nowhere to be found, instead, there are Father Salvador (Ricky Davao), Father Benedicto (Aaron Villaflor) and photojournalist Emilia Henson (Alyssa Muhlach). Father Benedicto doesn’t believe in demons at first, and Father Salvador is older and on his way out which lends a lot of comparison to The Exorcist.
“…subject of one of the more famous real-life exorcism cases…in the Philippines in 1953.”
Basically, Clarita is not attempting to stick to what is known to be at least somewhat true about this true-life event, using the story as a framework to retell the story of The Exorcist and other scarier fictional tales of exorcism instead. There is crab-walking, wall-crawling, face-morphing, voice-changing, and all the other typical demonic possession ephemera. It also has a heavy-handed religious undertone that some exorcism films don’t..possess. It has a grand emphasis on the importance of faith in situations like this, which I found interesting. Noting everything about Clarita, I find it important to mention that it’s well-shot and definitely scary in the right parts. It’s perfect for fans of the exorcism genre in general. Just know that it won’t be anything that you haven’t already seen before. If you know that going in, you’re less likely to be disappointed by what is a textbook exorcism film that hits all the beats you expect and more likely to be entertained by another entry in the demonic possession canon.
"…heavy-handed religious undertone that some exorcism films don't..possess."