‘The Exorcist’ director witnessed an actual exorcism at the Vatican for new film

William Friedkin's new documentary 'The Devil and Father Amorth' is out in April

The director of horror classic The Exorcist has a new documentary coming out which sees him witnessing a real-life exorcism at the Vatican.

The Devil and Father Amorth, which opens at select US cinemas from April 20, tells the story of the late Father Gabriele Amortha, the Vatican’s resident exorcist at the Diocese of Rome who passed away in September 2016.

In the film, Exorcist director William Friedkin is a witness as Amortha performs an ninth exorcism on an Italian woman.

‘The Exorcist’ director William Friedkin

“It was terrifying,” Friedkin told Variety of the experience. “I went from being afraid of what could happen to feeling a great deal of empathy with this woman’s pain and suffering, which is obvious in the film.”

Friedkin – who also directed 1971’s The French Connection – said that he was able to gain access because Amortha had been a fan of The Exorcist.

“I think I came along at a time when he wanted people to become aware of this work because he wanted the Vatican to train more exorcists,” Friedkin explained. “He believed that I had enough cachet to take his story… that I would be able to bring it to the public by way of a film.”

The documentary premiered last August at the Venice Film Festival. Watch its trailer below.

Friedkin has responded to criticism over the validity of exorcism as a practice, recently tweeting: “I don’t know anymore than you do. But just because we don’t know about something doesn’t mean it does or doesn’t exist. I just don’t go through life as a skeptic.”