Friday, August 26, 2016

Horror Film Review

The Vatican Tapes (2015):  I was thinking to myself just the other day that what this world needs is more exorcism movies.  Because as you know, there haven't nearly been enough of the damn things.  There hasn't been a decent one since 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose.  So maybe The Vatican Tapes is decent, you muse.  It certainly had potential, that is until it went off rails, sideways, and became a hot mess in a dumpster fire.

We begin in Vatican City with Cardinal Bruun (John Andersson) and Vicar Imani (Djimon Hounsou) showing us numerous possessions via video while explaining in voices laden with doom how Satan will soon walk the earth.  Unless the Church can stop him.  Bruun, it seems, was possessed when he was 12 years old.  An exorcism saved him.  And so...

It's Angela's (Olivia Dudley) birthday.  Her Army colonel father Roger (Dougray Scott) says he can't make it but he and Angela's boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) conspire to surprise her.  Roger shows up, everyone's happy, then Angela starts feeling unwell and acting weird.  A big ass raven starts following her around.  Her goofiness lands her in a psych hospital where patients and staff inexplicably start hurting themselves and attacking others.  Family friend and priest Father Lozano (Michael Pena) finally recognizes that Angela isn't really Angela anymore and places a call to Italy.  Back at home with boyfriend Pete, dad Roger, and Father Lozano, Angela confronts the newly arrived Cardinal Bruun.  There's a bizarre deja vu moment when you swear you're watching The Exorcist at the part when Father Merrin and Father Karras first enter the house.  Oh, if only what happens next could have been even a tenth as good as what Merrin and Karras experienced.

I feel the need to spoil, so there's your warning.  Instead of reciting the Rite of Exorcism, Bruun simply screams at Angela and chokes her, demanding the demon show itself.  It says it's Satan and had possessed Bruun when he was 12.  Sure.  Why not.  Bruun fetches a few dozen feet of log chain from the car and they secure her to the bed.  He also fetched a fancy dagger, aiming to kill Angela.  Not much works out for Cardinal Bruun.  He dies, Angela/Satan suddenly becomes a supervillain from a Marvel movie and blasts half the house apart to escape.  Roger and Pete die in the blast. Father Lozano survives and rushes to meet with Vicar Imani at the Vatican.  They watch TV which shows Angela gaining global fame for miraculously healing the sick.  Then the two men of the cloth discuss the inevitable war between the warriors of God and Satan...who now walks the earth.  Pretending to be the messiah.  By doing messiah stuff.  Like it says in the Bible.  Get it?  Do ya?

Talk about putting too fine a point on it.  Beyond the overbaked denouement, nothing that happens after Angela leaves the loony bin makes half a lick of sense.  Up to that point, I was interested, engaged even.  A favorite expression of movie reviewers is that a film collapses under its own weight.  I've never used that particular expression.  I use it now.

The Skinny

Acting:  Michael Pena might have been on ludes when shooting this.  Way too mellow.  Dougray Scott contributes most of the necessary raw emotion as would be expected by a father.  Andersson goes overboard as Bruun.  Amedori as Pete is just right.  As for Dudley's Angela...I don't know.  Doesn't stand out either way.
Story:  Nothing even remotely new here.
Direction:  Pedantic.
Production Values:  The movie looks pretty good.  Budget was $8.5 million.  Nothing too fancy.
Gore/FX:  There could have been but there wasn't.  If only it had been rated R....
Scares:  What are those?
Ending:  Dumb.  Evil dumb.
Verdict:  Should you see The Vatican Tapes?  No.  You should not.  It was a waste of talent and money.  Go watch The Exorcist or The Exorcism of Emily Rose again.

Rating:  2 out of 5

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