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.
Continue reading: The Vatican Tapes Review
Since the death of Christ, the Vatican has been doing all it can to record and suppress the growing number of possessions and exorcisms. Though a constant battle with the Devil has been raging for over 2000 years, he has yet to show his true face to the followers of God. They know only one thing - he could possess any living human being, seemingly randomly. When a young woman is found to be showing the symptoms of possession, two priests are sent from the Vatican, one being Father Lozano (Michael Peña), to find an exorcise the woman before the Devil can take a true hold of her, and begin his attack upon the mortal world.
Continue: Vatican Tapes Trailer
Korean filmmaker Kim played with the Western genre before in his wacky 2008 pastiche The Good the Bad the Weird, and this film is just as chaotically uneven, mixing cartoon-style silliness with grisly violence. But the high-energy approach holds our interest, as does Schwarzenegger's immense screen presence in his first starring role since his political career. The film is far too jumbled to hold together, but its sardonic sense of humour makes it a decent guilty pleasure.
Arnie plays Sheriff Owens, who has a quiet routine in his sleepy Arizona-Mexico border town. So when a stranger (Stormare) appears, he sends his deputies (Alexander and Gilford) to investigate. Things get violent quickly, so he deputises a drunken veteran (Santoro) and a moronic gun-nut (Knoxville) to work alongside another deputy (Guzman). What he doesn't yet know is that the baddies are part of an elaborate plan to help a drug kingpin (Noriega) escape from a Law Vegas FBI Agent (Whitaker) and cross the border to freedom in Mexico.
The whizzy plot actually has promise as a straightforward action movie, but Kim throws so much nuttiness at the screen that we can't take anything seriously. The story zings from set-piece to set-piece without much concern for credibility or coherence. It's all very cool, especially the baddie's glimmering, super-fast prototype Corvette, which travels "faster than a chopper" on isolated country roads that are improbably smooth. And his climactic plan to get over the border is astonishingly silly, but played dead straight.
Continue reading: The Last Stand Review
Raised in an cloistered religious community in Utah, Rachel (Garner) has just turned 15 and believes that she's pregnant because she listened to some illicit pop music. Her parents (Watros and Zane) think otherwise, blaming her brother Will (Aiken) for this "immaculate" conception. But instead of face an arranged marriage to a stranger, Rachel runs off with Will to Las Vegas. There they meet Clyde (Culkin), a young rocker who challenges everything they've been taught and changes the way they see the world.
Continue reading: Electrick Children Review
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With its above-average cast and a gritty, realistic tone, this exorcism thriller is a lot...
Korean filmmaker Kim played with the Western genre before in his wacky 2008 pastiche The...
Slow and introspective, this involving drama wobbles slightly as its plot takes a few contrived...