Director: Julius Avery
Writers: Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Starring: Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero, Laurel Marsden, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney
The Pope’s Exorcist is a horror film from director Julius Avery, with a script from Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Russell Crowe stars as Gabriele Amorth, the Pope’s exorcist, who travels to a run-down abbey in Spain that is being renovated by an American family. While the work is being carried out a demon is released that possesses the youngest member of the family.
Russel Crowe does a good job as Amorth, the wise-cracking exorcist that is facing controversy within the Vatican as the church is trying to stay relevant. The rest of the characters aren’t as convincing and just quite bland, which is a shame. The dialogue is pretty bad at points and it often feels like it’s all just going through the motions. It’s a possession film and we’ve all seen very similar stuff before, such as the equally formulaic Pray for the Devil that came out last year.
Effect-wise, the film is pretty decent, especially towards the end when everything really gets going. Sadly, while it looks good, none of it is scary. Besides a couple of jump-scares there’s nothing close to being tense or chilling. It doesn’t even create a creepy atmosphere, despite its abandoned abbey setting, complete with hidden catacombs underneath it that reveal a secret conspiracy dating back centuries.
The film is being marketed as being based on the memoirs of Father Gabriele Amorth, and while it’s definitely inspired by them, it’s also definitely not a true story. Even if you take it at face value it’s way too over the top to be believable, with a ridiculous Catholic conspiracy, extreme possession, and a battle with the king of Hell.
It’s a cookie-cutter possession film and doesn’t really bring anything to the new table. Russell Crowe is good as the lead character and makes it watchable, but it’s still just a by-the-numbers special effects driven horror film. If you’ve seen pretty much any possession film then you know exactly what you’re going to get.
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