Rev. Bob Larson is the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena. He has spoken in more than 100 countries and has appeared on scores of network TV shows such as ”Oprah”, ”The O’Reilly Factor”, and ”Dr. Phil.” More than a dozen major television networks have produced documentaries about his work, and he has been featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major newspapers. Bob has written 31 books, translated into more than a dozen languages. His books include four best-selling novels. His 575-page classic work Larson’s Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality is a standard reference encyclopedia at many colleges and seminaries. His latest book is Demon Proofing Prayers. He has starred as a real-life exorcist in his own TV reality show seen worldwide, “The Real Exorcist.”
How grounded in reality, from your experience, is ”The Devil Inside”?
It is after all Hollywood and it is after all the horror genre but at the same time there are some aspects about it which are all too real. The two which come to mind are the issue of demonic transference and the scientific approach in verifying an exorcism, including the dilation of the pupils of the eyes.
What kind of person can become a practicing exorcist?
Well it takes a religious person, a person of faith. It’s obviously a calling. It’s someone who feels deeply about helping other people. But it’s somebody who has a spiritual vocation. You just don’t become an exorcist and desire to have that knowledge and training. It’s really a higher calling.
What kind of preparation do you undertake before conducting an exorcism?
Well, there’s a lot of knowledge that’s necessary and I’m speaking of an individual such as myself. Even the priests who are portrayed in the movie don’t just jump into it. The Roman Catholic Church has a ritual of Romana, which is a prescribed ritual but even if you recite a ritual, you have to know what’s behind it. Perhaps more importantly, the movie emphasizes that there are a lot of psychological issues which you have to work through to determine if it’s truly possession or if it’s some other phenomenon, So you have to have a working knowledge of various forms of mental health issues and various ways in which people respond physically and emotionally – which may or may not indicate possession.
How exactly does a person become possessed?
Well that is an interesting question and it really does not come up in most of the movies. For example, the original The Exorcist only just briefly touched on it with this reference to a Ouija Board. The one thing that is consistent with all types of exorcism be it Protestant or Catholic or whatever, is finding out the original entry point of the demon because no demon can be expelled unless you discover what it is that got the demon there in the first place and that issue is resolved. There’s always a resolution of something related to the original cause of the possession.
What does a demonic presence need from the possession of a human body?
It’s really pretty simple; a demon is an invisible spirit being. It has no capacity to do actual evil, it needs a physical body, so for example, a demon cannot rape somebody, a demon can’t pull the trigger of a gun and a demon can’t start a war. It’s through the body of somebody, if they’re sufficiently induced by the demon, that the demon accomplishes actual evil in the world.
Have you ever come to any physical harm conducting an exorcism?
I have come to physical harm, but not often. I’ve since learned to be very, very careful. I had my ribs broken once, which was probably the most serious, that’s because I was not sufficiently careful. But there’s always the danger of violence and I will not do an exorcism ever alone. If I think there is going to be the potential of violence, I will always have several very strong men available. I’ve seen a case, in Australia actually, where I had 11 strong men hanging on to body parts of just the one man.
In ”The Devil Inside”, there is a scene at the Vatican where students are being tutored on the subject of exorcism, is this common in reality?
It is not common at all. In fact, of the entire Roman Catholic Church, that is the only sanctioned instructional institution. And as far I know, we are the only ones, even in the Protestant community who officially train people. Now there are others who in an ad hoc way try to give people instruction on how to conduct an exorcism but certainly not within methodical approach that we do. It’s something that’s extremely rare.
In the movie we are shown what appears to be ‘demonic transference’, which you have already briefly touched upon. Is that something you’ve actually experienced or just Hollywood fiction?
Actually that is very real and something that you’ve got to be careful of. Demons are always looking for someone who is accessible, they will try to go into another body during the process of the exorcism, so the exorcist has to always be in control of the process so that doesn’t happen. Sometimes people unwillingly get demons by being in relationships with others who have demons. That can particularly happen in a sexual sense; we find that happening all the time.
How do you feel Hollywood has portrayed the subject of exorcism in the past?
“I think Hollywood has done a very poor job for the most part. That’s because they are mainly interested in entertainment and drama and the actual reality of exorcism may not be all that entertaining. So what you have in The Devil Inside is a horror movie and with that a certain amount of entertainment but the first half of the film is a pretty serious discussion and in that dialogue, you do learn more about exorcism than any other movie has ever communicated.
Would you recommend audiences go and see ”The Devil Inside” when in is released in Australian cinemas?
Well I don’t recommend it in the sense that as a spiritual person there are elements in the movie that I’m a little uncomfortable with. However it is reality and it is Hollywood, but if you want something that comes closer to authenticity, this is the movie that has it. And it’s also a pretty scary movie, even for me there were times when I jumped out of my seat!
THE DEVIL INSIDE – March 1st 2012. Only in Cinemas.
SYNOPSIS: In 1989, emergency responders received a 9-1-1 call from Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley) confessing that she had brutally killed three people. 20 years later, her daughter Isabella (Fernanda Andrade) seeks to understand the truth about what happened that night. She travels to the Centrino Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Italy where her mother has been locked away to determine if her mother is mentally ill or demonically possessed. When she recruits two young exorcists (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) to cure her mom using unconventional methods combining both science and religion, they come face-to-face with pure evil in the form of four powerful demons possessing Maria.