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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Review: The Pope's Exorcist

Director: Julius Avery

Screenplay: Michael Petroni, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and R. Dean McCreary

Year: 2023

Between its title and what it presents in the trailer, I thought "The Pope's Exorcist" would be another absurd horror movie that doesn't take itself seriously. After hearing good references from people who saw it, I was curious and ended up watching it. Although my initial impression was not entirely wrong, it far exceeded my expectations.

After the death of her husband, a mother, and her two children move into an old house they inherited in Spain. Shortly after being there, the youngest son starts behaving strangely and violently. The Vatican sent Father Gabrielle Amorth to investigate the case, suspecting possession by a powerful demon.

"The Pope's Exorcist" is a film based on the life of Father Gabrielle Amorth, who was a Vatican exorcist credited with over 60,000 exorcisms. One of the hooks that the film uses in its favor is Russel Crowe playing the exorcist, and it can be said that, in general, Crowe manages to play a charismatic and interesting character. However, his skills at imitating the Italian accent aren't that great.

Perhaps the best way the plot of "The Pope's Exorcist" can be described is that it suffers from an identity crisis in a good way. Director Julius Avery (“Overlord”), in parts, seems to want to bring a horror movie referencing the great exorcism movies, in others it seems like an "Indiana Jones" style investigative film, and in others, it seems a parody of the previous ones. The interesting thing is that as long as you don't take yourself too seriously, it all works and makes for a fun product.

What can be criticized about this movie is that it doesn't take any risks and prefers to stay in the comfort zone using all the clichés we know about possession movies. This makes it predictable and does not generate tension in the viewer. While the horror feels a bit bland because of how predictable it is, the gore tries to fill that void, and that's where it justifies its R rating.

Will "The Pope's Exorcist" be remembered among the great horror movies of possessions and exorcisms? This is hardly the case, however, it is a fun movie. It does not propose anything new to a genre and uses all the clichés of this type of film and still manages to be a good product, although it requires that the viewer does not pay too much attention to the coherence of its plot.

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