The Vatican Tapes (2015)

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“A priest and two Vatican exorcists must do battle with an ancient satanic force to save the soul of a young woman.” — IMDb

I went into this movie feeling pretty skeptical, and… sadly those doubts were completely justified (not that I expected much from a director otherwise known for Jason Statham action flicks). It feels like there have been a million possession movies over the years and, honestly, it’s rare that I find one that I really love, and that isn’t just a cookie cutter version of the same story (which, in itself, IS interesting and scary as hell, it’s just rarely portrayed in a way that I find to be genuinely chilling).

As if I really need to tell the plot, but… Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) visits the hospital for a cut finger and, later on, for a related infection. On the way home she violently takes the wheel and crashes the car, winding up in a coma for 40 days (see what they did there?). Right as they are about to pull her off life support she wakes up, seemingly none the worse for wear. Her father (Dougray Scott) and boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) — who partake in some of the most predictable banter and relationship clashing ever — are very concerned as she starts to exhibit signs of demonic possession and is subsequently admitted to a psychiatric facility, where things just get crazier until the inevitable exorcism when her true form is revealed.

“One will come to mimic the Christ and the deceived will worship this false prophet, and that is the day we most fear.”

It’s just… meh. The acting isn’t bad, by any means, but it’s nothing special, with Dudley being the standout but not by much. The scene where she “forces” the detective to smash the lightbulbs into his eyes is admittedly pretty awesome, but it’s fleeting (not that I want to see more footage of eyeball-lightbulb-smashing, just saying it’s a small glimmer of hope in an otherwise mediocre pool of movie). They use every trick in the book — Angela speaking in Aramaic, furniture moving on its own, the sudden bursts of violence by the other patients. The scene with her spitting up the eggs — apparently representing a perverted Holy Trinity — was pretty neat, as was Angela pulling on her chains so hard that she breaks her own back and arms.

But they really missed the mark on most of it — they barely showed Vicar Imani (Djimon Hounsou) or Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson), who you would THINK would be more central characters given the name. I was hoping for a bit more backstory but instead they relied a bit too much on tired stereotypes, a fairly bland script, and unimpressive effects. Womp!

Rating: 2/10 | Director: Mark Neveldine | Writer: Christopher Borrelli, Michael C. Martin | Music: Joseph Bishara | Starring: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Kathleen Robertson, Michael Peña, Dougray Scott, Djimon Hounsou, John Patrick Amedori, Peter Andersson

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