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Based on a real character from the murkier side of quite recent Vatican operations, Russell Crowe dons his cassock and travels to a remote abbey in Spain where his meets with "Fr. Esquibel" (Daniel Zovatto). Why? Well it seems that a young boy is being possessed by a singularly nasty demon. Now Fr. Amorth is not unused to these scenarios and is also aware that the vast majority of these situations have nothing to do with satanic practices and more to do with mental health issues. Quickly, though, he realises that this is a serious and potentially deadly demonisation and both he and his colleague must discover what went on at this place and just who their violent foe is, before they can have any hope of casting it back into the shadows. That's the plot, and to be fair Crowe actually plays his character with a bit of charisma, but the rest of this is the same old loudly scored, visual effects feast with plenty of routine dramatic scenes: screaming, eye-popping, ceiling climbing, bodies and holy water thrown about the place and this one even has a bit of the Spanish Inquisition thrown in for added authenticity. It's not that is terrible - it isn't; it is just all so very derivative. Just because the exorcist was real doesn't actually make this film any different from an whole spate of other similar films that have the same beginning, middle, and end... It will do fine on the television around Halloween, but the cinema adds little to the presentation. It's nice to see that Franco Nero is still making films, but otherwise this is adequate, but nothing more.
MORE SPOILER-FREE MINI-REVIEWS @ www.msbreviews.com/movie-reviews/mini-reviews-2023-edition "The Pope's Exorcist swings for the fences with well-directed horror sequences by Julius Avery, who wasn't afraid to take advantage of the R rating to deliver a substantial amount of gore. Unfortunately, it isn't able to escape the narrative formulas of "humans possessed by demons" repeated over several decades in this "subgenre" of exorcisms. Russell Crowe elevates the movie quite a bit with a well-rounded performance, seamlessly blending the dramatic moments with his character's comedic personality. However, the constant tonal changes create uncertainty about the type of film we're supposed to be watching. Personally, it's a mixed bag..." Rating: C+
When you buy a ticket for a movie like “The Pope’s Exorcist” it’s pretty clear what you’re getting into. There’s a ton of Catholic imagery like the rosary, crucifixes, holy water, church rituals, and lots of prayers, all used to fight off the demonic possession of an innocent. All of the standard elements are present here, but director Julius Avery‘s film surprisingly offers a refreshing (if somewhat routine) take on the religious horror subgenre. Elevated by a well thought-out story and an engaging performance from Russell Crowe, the film tells the story of Father Gabriele Amorth (Crowe), Chief Exorcist of the Vatican (and one of the most controversial figures in the Church’s modern era). The script is inspired by the Father’s actual files of his time spent conducting exorcisms for the Catholic Church, which is enough to make your skin crawl. The movie follows Father Amorth as he travels to Spain to investigate a young boy’s (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) possession by a powerful demon. Aided by local priest Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), Father Amorth tries to help the child before it’s too late. In the process, he uncovers a centuries-old conspiracy that the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden. It’s a really great story, and one that feels more plausible than other religious horror fantasies about supernatural possessions. (You know what I mean). There are solid scares, bloody violence, and creepy imagery that are all done quite well. It’s slightly goofy but played with sincerity, which is why the film never teeters on the edge of camp. This isn’t a case of a movie that’s so bad it’s good, it actually is good. While it may seem like there isn’t a lot here to separate the film from other exorcism stories (especially when there are several scenes of priests reciting prayers while brandishing crosses at a child who, possessed by a demon, is screaming obscenities in a growling voice), the depth of the storytelling is what makes a huge difference. Every element clicks in unison here, from the screenplay to the direction to the better than expected performances. “The Pope’s Exorcist” is the type of movie that should be forgettable, but isn’t. I actually enjoyed it because it overdelivers on what it promises, and is a lot better than you’d expect. Towards the end of the movie, I literally starting thinking, “wow, Crowe and Zovatto should star in future installments as ass-kicking priest sidekicks,” and bam! The film went ahead and set itself up for a sequel: 199 of them, to be exact. As batty as this sounds, I would — pun intended — watch the hell out of that. **By: Louisa Moore / SCREEN ZEALOTS / WWW.SCREENZEALOTS.COM**
Its actually a great movie like it trun into a bit dark one in the end
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed The Pope's Exorcist. After initially seeing the trailers, I wrote this movie off as a standard possession film that I have seen time and time again, and while most of that is still true, there is something about this film that made it a joy to watch. The film does not attempt to do anything particularly new or groundbreaking in the genre, but everything it has is handled with care and precision. The direction is fantastic, with a very quick pace that makes each scene have a sense of urgency as our characters attempt to perform the exorcism. There is particularly deep lore that is established within the church structure, with different factions and politics at play that add a slightly different dimension rather than just your run-of-the-mill "insert random priest here." My favorite aspect of the film is the acting. I think all of the adult characters do a tremendous job here. Russell Crowe kills it in every scene he is in and definitely gives an entirely different take on the exorcist character. Where most are intensely serious and melodramatic, Crowe adds a bit of whimsicalness and youth to the character that creates a calming presence to every intense scene. His rapport with Daniel Zovatto is excellent. The two really play off each other well and carried the film in many ways. Alex Essoe was great, although underutilized. The two children were okay. The boy gave a very stereotypical portrayal of a possessed child, and the daughter was flat in many ways. My only complaint about the entire film is its lack of originality and the story. Every single beat is something that we have seen before; there were no new or fresh ideas that were interjected into the story. The tension was fine, but nothing was particularly scary. Overall, if not for the film's fantastic director and cast, it would have been a bomb. Score: 63% 👍 Verdict: Decent
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