Real-life exorcisms are being increasingly performed worldwide partly due to inadequate mental health treatment, a new documentary claims.
Rituals aimed at the expulsion of supposed demonic spirits from 'possessed' people have also apparently escalated as a result of the economic downturn, according to filmmaker Federica Di Giacomo.
In her chilling documentary, entitled Deliver Us , Ms Di Giacomo followed 80-year-old Catholic priest Father Cataldo Migliazzo, reported to be Sicily's "most in-demand exorcist".
People who visit her in the film include a reclusive woman who thinks her demon will make her do depraved acts in public and a drug addict disturbed by visions.
Huck magazine reported exorcisms are "steadily gaining popularity within organised religion" possibly as a result of ineffective care for the mentally ill.
Ms Di Giacomo said priests are "the first" to tell people to see doctors but cannot turn them away.
The film tells people it is a mistake to go to an exorcist.
Speaking to Huck, Ms Di Giacomo said she pursued exorcisms following reports they had grown in the wake of the economic downturn.
She said the rituals she witnessed during filming were "very real".
She said: "Sometimes it was really difficult not to share their suffering - especially when you see the things that were happening to their bodies, the contorting from within their muscles."
"The priests are the first to tell them to see doctors, but they can’t turn them away - they can’t say no to listening.