The Vatican Tapes

"Good"

The Vatican Tapes Review


With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot more involving than most. Not only is it packed with demonic mayhem, but the complex characters make the drama much punchier, setting up the audience for several big jolts. Even so, the plot builds slowly, finally reaching its most intriguing twist right at the very end, so the credits start rolling just as things get properly riveting.

The title refers to a secret archive under the Vatican run by Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) and his assistant Imani (Djimon Hounsou). It contains files and lots of tapes of demonic possession, including scenes of 30-year-old Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley). She has a happy life with her cute boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) and tough-but-kind dad Roger (Dougray Scott), but starts acting a bit strange whenever a raven is nearby. As her behaviour gets more erratic, she is assisted by Father Lozano (Michael Pena), who takes a personal interest in her case. But things spiral far beyond Lozano's expertise, so he calls the Vatican for help. And when Bruun arrives in America to meet Angela in person, he's unnerved to discover that this might not be a demon: she could be the Antichrist.

The screenplay cleverly weaves in news reports and current events to make everything that happens feel grounded in real life. As it continues, the biblical and fantastical flourishes intriguingly fit into this context, while director Mark Neveldine delays tipping over into effects-based action until the final act. This means that the film quietly unnerves the audience from the start, using CCTV footage and some enjoyably scary touches that add to the atmosphere. As a result, the actors are able to flesh out their characters. Dudley gives Angela a strong personality that lingers even after the presence inside her starts to take over. As the three priests, Pena, Andersson and Hounsou don't have much to do, but they add subtle details to their scenes.

In Scott and Amedori, the film also has two characters the audience can sympathise with: the frightened tough guy and the quietly emotional nice guy. So it's a bit frustrating that the story's final act is such a change of pace. Screenwriters Christopher Borrelli and Michael Martin ambitiously steer the film into a properly outrageous direction that's packed with implications and possibility. But the film ends just as everything builds up a real head of steam. It's a big, intriguing ending that's remarkably chilling. But frankly it leaves everything that came before feeling like a lightweight Exorcist knock-off.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for The Vatican Tapes here:




The Vatican Tapes

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th July 2015

Box Office USA: $1.8M

Distributed by: Pantelion Films

Production compaines: Lakeshore Entertainment, Lionsgate, H2F Entertainment, Pantelion Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 4.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mark Neveldine

Producer: Chris Cowles, , ,

Starring: Olivia Taylor Dudley as Angela Holmes, as Père Lozano, as Vicar Imani, as Roger Holmes, as Cardinal Bruun, as Docteur Richards, as Pete, as Docteur Fahti, as Det. Harris

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