As Baphomet opens, a Satanic cult sacrifices a naked woman while their leader Henrik Brandr (Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Beyond Fury, Crucified) promises soon they won’t have to hide in the shadows. It’s an ominous opening, only slightly marred by Brandr seeming to pronounce the ruler of Hell’s name as “Satin”.
Whatever the cult has planned involves a ranch owned by Jacob Richardson (Colin Ward, Mank, On the Ropes) and his wife Elena (Ivy Opdyke, Hide the Monster). Brandr sends his son Askel (Stephen Brodie, The Rake, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) to convince them to sell. He doesn’t manage that, but a picture of their pregnant daughter Rebecca (Rebecca Weaver) and her husband Mark (Matthan Harris) catches his eye.
Not one to take no for an answer Henrik literally unleashes Hell on the family. They turn to researcher Lon Carlson (Dani Filth, Cradle of Fear, Dominator, and of course, singer for Cradle of Filth) and white witch Marybeth (Charlotte Bjornbak, Cannibal Corpse Killers). Will good prevail over evil?
Writer/director Matthan Harris (The Inflicted, For We Are Many) serves up an engaging dose of occult cheese in Baphomet’s first act with everything from dead birds to attacks by sharks and snakes. And then it gets weirder with resurrection spells and an evil secret in an old well under the house.
This isn’t elevated horror or even particularly intelligent horror for that matter, but it is fast-paced and fun as long as you don’t think about it. And there isn’t much to think about as the film bounces from incident to incident with bugger-all exposition in between. Baphomet is the polar opposite of all those films that feature endless talk and minimal scares. The film could actually use a bit more dialogue to help explain things and to give the characters some development. And with a seventy-two-minute running time, it could have been added without making the film seem long or padded.
Instead, Baphomet is constantly throwing something at us. Brandr, Askel and his other son Amund (Nick Principe, The 27 Club, FP2: Beats of Rage) are sacrificing naked women one minute, the next someone is being brought back from the dead or there’s a shootout. Thankfully there’s enough of a plot that you can follow along. There are moments when things seem to happen out of left field, but they eventually make sense.
On the negative side, Radice, Principe and Filth basically have glorified cameos, especially Principe who has probably less than five minutes of screen time. Dani Filth does all of his scenes via video conferencing. That’s a double disappointment as he was one of the main reasons I watched Baphomet. He does a good job with what the script gives him, but I was hoping he’d have a better, more active, part to play.
Possibly the most surprising thing about Baphomet though is that it was shot in 2016 and only now getting released. With three marketable names, plenty of action along with some gore and nudity it’s certainly the kind of film you would expect to get picked up. Why films like The Jonestown Haunting had no trouble getting a distributor while this sat on a shelf is a mystery to me. I mean it’s no classic but it’s not a sleep-inducing talkfest either.
In any case, Baphomet is finally available on Digital platforms as well as on DVD and Blu-Ray via Cleopatra Entertainment. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.