The Pope’s Exorcist review by Bobby Blakey
I love all things horror, but my least favorite subgenre is that of hauntings and possession. Most of the time they just don’t work all that well, but when they do they are some of the best. The latest, The Pope’s Exorcist brings star power in Russell Crowe based on the memoirs of Father Gabriele Amorth. In addition to Crowe, the film stars Daniel Zovatto, Alex Esso, Laurel Marsden, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney and Franco Nero from Samaritan director Julius Avery. Could this film bring the truth of his writings to proper life or will it need more prayers to deliver?
The Pope’s Exorcist follows Amorth as he investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden.
Heading into this film I was looking forward to see how Crowe handled this kind of role and he is the reason this film works. He looks to be having a blast with the role and brings a serious yet humorous presence to the role that is just fun to watch. When he needs to be serious he is all in, but the lighthearted approach to the banter makes it feel like something fresh and way more interesting than just another exorcism movie. As great as he is that is where the film struggles a bit in the rest of the cast. They are fine as far as performances, but the characters are mostly one dimension and not all that likable. Some of this at least makes them interesting in story progression, but as a whole left me uninterested in them overall.
The story is simple and works despite being slow at times. Getting to see it from Father Amorth’s perspective makes it interesting and the way he
handles it is cool to see his process. Again this comes through in Crowe’s performance and makes the film work despite its shortcomings in pacing and character depth in the others.
I loved the way they handled the possession moments. They are crazy at times and while not as scary as it could have been still works for the story they are telling. I was all in for the ride, but for the big set up of who the demon they are dealing with is and how powerful it is, it felt like they wrapped it all up pretty quick. Those final moments were the only part of the entire aspect of the film that I really had issues with in both the little bit of CGI they used that wasn’t great and the abrupt finale.
They clearly were hoping to set it up for possibly more cases to explore and I would so love to see Crowe as this character as many times as possible, but only time will tell if that ever happens.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including some featurettes bringing the film to life. Grab your copy of The Pope’s Exorcist available now on digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on June 13th from Universal.