THE POPE’S EXORCIST is a new horror movie out on VOD now. Russell Crowe stars in the title role, and though I enjoyed the beginning, the ending lost me. The third act was over-the-top in all the wrong ways. Read our The Pope’s Exorcist movie review here!
THE POPE’S EXORCIST is a new horror movie out on VOD now. The all-important title role is portrayed by Russell Crowe who delivers a memorable and even quirky performance. In a good way, I assure you. However, while this movie started out in a way I truly enjoyed, the ending almost ruined it for me.
It went from the creepy horror vibe that I love to being a full-blown horror action movie. Complete with scenes that could’ve been from either Hellboy or a Sam Raimi horror movie. And I enjoy both of those as well, but this particular movie is also billed as inspired by true events. The main “character” is actually based on a real person.
Continue reading our The Pope’s Exorcist movie review below. Available to buy or rent from May 2, 2023, and also still in theaters.
The battle between good and evil
At the core of any exorcism horror movie is the ongoing battle between good and evil. With the (Catholic) Church on one side and “possessed people with the devil in them” on the other. What I initially enjoyed about The Pope’s Exorcist was the focus on the fact that when people are labeled as “possessed”, they often have mental illnesses.
That doesn’t make the story any less scary, but it did mean it began with covering some of the issues related to the concept of exorcism. And, once again, this movie is based on an actual person, who worked for the Vatican as the Pope’s Exorcist.
Of course, as this is a movie about exorcism, we do also meet someone who is most definitely possessed. In the exact same way that we always see in any exorcism horror movie. And the recipe is exactly the same as always; A whole lot of prayers and calling upon God and Jesus to help in the fight.
Nothing new to be seen in this movie. At all!
Wonderful cast, terrible ending
I do have to mention that several of the key characters in The Pope’s Exorcist deliver amazing performances. We have the always amazing Alex Essoe (Midnight Mass, Doctor Sleep) as the recently widowed mother of two children. The story is set in the late 1980s and after her husband has passed, they’re flat broke.
Fortunately – for the storyline, anyway – the late husband owned a house in his native Spain, so now Julia (Alex Essoe) goes to Spain to fix up the house and sell it. Her kids are Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) and Amy (Laurel Marsden). Of course, Laurel Marsden, who plays the daughter is just ten years younger than Alex Essoe. But that’s classic Hollywood!
In any case, all three of them deliver amazing performances and the movie is at its very best when they are still the focal point of everything happening. Especially Peter DeSouza-Feighoney as the possessed Henry is pure terror. Of course, having the added “demon voice” of Ralph Ineson (To Catch a Killer) doesn’t hurt. Quite the opposite.
Russell Crowe comes to save the day as Father Gabriele Amorth (aka “The Pope’s Exorcist”). This exorcism case also comes at a time when the Vatican is trying to stop the entire exorcism element of the Church, so the timing could not be better.
FUN FACT – OR JUST A GOOF?
Father Amorth loves riding around on his Vespa scooter, which is apparently something Russell Crowe came up with after seeing priests on Vespas in Rome. How Father Amorth manages to ride his Vespa from the Vatican to Spain, while being in a hurry, must be something only God can explain. It certainly defies the natural order!
In any case, Father Amorth comes to Spain to help Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto) handle the demon issue and prove that exorcism is very much needed as part of the Church.
Now, I’ll gladly recognize that I am not a religious person – I may have faith, but I loathe all that is done in the name of religion – so to me, this is just as fictitious as any other movie. However, as noted earlier, I really liked the beginning of this movie. The little family being tormented works perfectly for me because it still feels relevant and familiar.
However, the final act of this movie has nothing to do with them. In fact, it turns into a “Priests turn Superheroes”-deal and I am not here for that.
The real Father Gabriele Amorth
This movie is based on several books by Father Gabriele Amorth himself.
For the record, he was a priest (ordained in 1954) who claimed that yoga is satanic, and reading Harry Potter leads to evil. Also, his favorite movie was supposedly the iconic 1973 movie The Exorcist. That movie came out long before he ever became an exorcist himself in 1986. I’m just sayin’!
OTHER EXORCISM STORIES
I do like exorcism movies in general – check out more in the niche here >
While I don’t like showing Priests as some sort of Superhero, it wasn’t even the worst thing. I mean, if they were fighting with love and compassion, I could get behind that. But this? No thanks. And I especially do not accept a movie that manages to absolve the Catholic Church of one of the worst crimes it has committed; The Spanish Inquisition.
According to a little detail in The Pope’s Exorcist, the responsible priests (of something that took place across centuries, mind you) were possessed by the Devil. So, really, it was the Devil’s fault and not the Catholic Church’s.
For me, this movie was already getting way off course around this time, but after that, it just turned into a commercial for the wonder of the Catholic Church. Stating quite plainly that everything bad is the Devil and everything good is God via the Catholic Church.
Watch The Pope’s Exorcist in theaters or at home now!
Julius Avery is the director of The Pope’s Exorcist and he definitely knows how to make both action and horror movies. He directed the amazing Nazi Zombie movie Overlord (2018) which feels just about as realistic as this new movie. Only the 2018 movie stayed more true to one style than this one manages to.
The screenplay was written by Michael Petroni (Messiah) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Unholy). The story comes from R. Dean McCreary, Chester Hastings, and Jeff Katz.
The first half, when Alex Essoe is still part of the movie, worked really well and was at a 4 out of 5. I also really liked that Russell Crowe (and many others) spoke Italian during the early scenes that took place in the Vatican.
That final act, however, felt like a completely different movie and it ruined the overall experience for me.
The Pope’s Exorcist premiered in theaters on April 14 and is out on VOD to buy or rent from May 2, 2023.
In Theaters: April 14, 2023
On VOD: May 2, 2023
Director: Julius Avery
Writer: Chester Hastings, R. Dean McCreary, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Cast: Russell Crowe, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero, Laurel Marsden, Daniel Zovatto, Cornell John, Bianca Bardoe
Inspired by the actual files of Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican, 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.
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