Unfortunately, once Menendez: The Day of the Lord sets up the story, and it reaches the main event, the Netflix film dulls itself with the seen-it-before exorcism.
This review of Netflix film Menendez: The Day of the Lord contains no spoilers. The horror was released on October 30, 2020.
A story about a long period of exorcism can either be a slog or a worthwhile experience. Menendez: The Day of the Lord offers all the cliches; a plot involving a retired priest who is shackled by his own sins and then one day, an old friend who begs him to help his supposedly possessed daughter.
I say supposedly because the story has the audience question whether the young woman is possessed; there’s a possibility that she could have sent her father haywire on a couple of teenage-style issues with the only conclusion being that the devil is inside of her. Menendez: The Day of the Lord positions the priest in a way where he fears his own exorcism style — there are warnings at the start of the story where he explains to his friend that a full day of exorcism with him could be unforgiving.
And with that, the story slowly bubbles, highlighting a priest still battling his past — there’s a reason he no longer practices religion. The grimy interior of the settings and the characters’ depression is what sets up the story.
Unfortunately, once Menendez: The Day of the Lord sets up the story, and it reaches the main event, the Netflix film dulls itself with the seen-it-before exorcism. The only saving grace is how it feeds self-doubt into the audience — are they simply torturing an innocent young woman or is she truly demonic? Apart from that, this is your routine, stereotypical exorcism story where sins cripple the characters, and the event gets crazier with each scene passing.
Credit has to go to the scene-setting and the director’s choice to instill as much darkness as possible. The story falls over when it no longer has to say anything for itself. It’s surprising how many horrors are made that rely on the trope alone, and it removes the need for depth in the characters. The director obviously thought a retired priest was enough to tick the boxes, but I cannot in the life in me remember why I was meant to be interested in the character at all.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.