The Real Enemy a spirited documentary about OKC's black mass

deadcenter2015Related content:

• deadCENTER Film Festival celebrates 15 years. • 2015 ICON award winner and honorees. • Commentary: Becoming an art-smart city, by Tyson Meade. • Satanic black mass documentary: The Real Enemy. • The life and times of a freewheeling legend: Being Evel. • Foodie favorites: Course of Food, City of Gold and The Last Sandwich. • Recommended: Special event screenings, LGBTQ, topical history, music, feature-length Oklahoma. • Dead Drunk Festival is Award Winning. • Oklahoma Gazette's official deadCENTER Film Festival program.

When Adam Daniels performed his black mass at Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City last year, a documentary film crew was accompanying him before and during the event. Filmmakers Tate James and Daniel Giles Helm will present their final director’s cut of documentary The Real Enemy at deadCENTER Film Festival this year.

“Daniel [Giles Helm] and I were raised in church in Oklahoma,” James said. “Our churches and households believed in spiritual warfare; they were common concepts in our lives — ideas we have moved away from now — but it was interesting to watch those concepts take over an entire national news cycle.”

In fact, the events in Oklahoma City occupied an international news cycle as well, which is one of the reasons an earlier cut of The Real Enemy was so popular at Ethnografilm Festival in Paris in April. For people outside the bubble of spiritual warfare — the same people who have likely never heard the name Frank Peretti — the idea of a cosmic battle between demons and angels, God and the devil, believers and forces of darkness is the stuff of canned-plot horror movies, not an event that is staged at a civic center.

Daniels appears in the documentary in very frank interview segments, and to their credit, the filmmakers never enter into judgment; they simply let Daniels say what he wants to say.

“I think they did a good job of revealing my personality as it actually is, not how local media portrayed it,” Daniels said.

The film delves into the lead-up to the event and includes interviews with Daniels’ wife, Everett Cox (a local exorcist), two academic experts on religion and several on-the-spot interviews with the crowd outside the civic center the night of the event. James and Helm even dig into the fractures in the Satanic community in Oklahoma City, including the break between Daniels and James Hale when The Church of IV Majesties rented the civic center in 2010 for a reverse exorcism, a ritual that involved casting out the Holy Spirit.

Cox appears in the film because James said the longtime deliverance minister had an actual plan of attack leading up to the event. Cox, a former investment banker, is well-known in certain Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian circles in the state due to his Deliverance Ministries, a spiritual warfare ministry that has been performing exorcisms since the early 1980s.

“They were meeting regularly, having prayer meetings to contest the black mass,” James said. “They were also interesting because they believe very similar things to Daniels’ group, but they obviously come at it from different sides.”

The film is not family-friendly. The language is strong, the material is religiously complex and some of the imagery might disturbing to some people. The filmmakers do not shy away from Daniels’ status as a registered sex offender — again, they allow Daniels to speak for himself on the issue, but they have the good sense to allow someone else to tell another side of the story.

The film is evenhanded, and James said they expended a lot of energy just keeping themselves out of it.

“We wanted to present the ideas and facts and let people make up their own minds,” James said.

Covering events with this level of theatricality and polarizing religious narratives is incredibly difficult, but James and Helm succeed.

deadCENTER Film Festival

The Real Enemy doubleheader with Grapple Habit: Oklahoma City’s Addiction to B.L.O.W.

9:45 p.m. Thursday 3 p.m. Saturday

Harkins Bricktown Cinemas 16

150 East Reno Ave.


Note: For deadCENTER festival tickets, schedule and more information, check out the official program guide in this issue.

(Photo by Mark Hancock / Composite and design by Christopher Street)

(Photo by Mark Hancock / Composite and design by Christopher Street)

Print headline: Spirited reel, Local filmmakers premiere their documentary about local spiritual warfare that became international fodder for news channels.

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