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THE VATICAN TAPES | © 2015 Lionsgate

Runnin’ with the devil

If you’ve seen one possession movie, you’ve seen them all. Never (yea, I said never) will there ever be another film that touches the art of exorcism like the original, dirty, rotten scoundrel of 1973. Sitting on a throne of its own and bolted with uniqueness and psychological slaughter, THE EXORCIST is a piece of cinematic perfection that’s been often imitated, never duplicated. To this day (unless you care to rebuttal) there hasn’t been another flick that’s come close to deliver an emotional and mental journey of spiritual chaos when exposing the horrid outcome of good versus evil.

“Not one.” – Fr. Karras (Jason Miller – THE EXORCIST) 

And there will come a point when Hollywood will need to tuck its tail in between its legs and say, “We need to leave this genre alone. There’s only one William Friedkin.”

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THE VATICAN TAPES | © 2015 Lionsgate

As we’ve gone through the years of many exorcism flicks (THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, THE LAST EXORCISM, THE DEVIL INSIDE, DELIVER US FROM EVIL, etc.) they all have something in common. Although they’ve treated them with bits of original story, they all follow the same formula, only to come off cheesy and cheap. It’s 2015 and now we’ve been sucked into a new vortex of possession. Hence, THE VATICAN TAPES.

THE VATICAN TAPES follows the ultimate battle between good and evil (of course it does) – God versus Satan. Angela Holmes (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is your everyday, ordinary 27-year- old until she begins to have a devastating effect on anyone close, causing serious injury and death. Holmes is examined and possession is suspected, but when the Vatican is called upon to exorcise the demon, the possession proves to be an ancient satanic force more powerful than ever imagined. It’s all up to Father Lozano (Michael Peña) to wage war for more than just Angela’s soul, but for the world as a whole.

Now. I will go on record of saying this attempt stood out in a different way. One that exposes an unexpected twist of soul survival, while following that same format I hinted of a couple of paragraphs ago. However, rather than aiming at some dreadful shit as it leads towards the final act, it banked on so much unnecessary build-up, the film pretty much exorcised itself out of a potential layout that would have made this a pretty interesting flick about the devil.

Summer 2015 The Vatican Tapes
THE VATICAN TAPES | © 2015 Lionsgate

Psychologically, it accomplishes a thrill in a creepy kind of way. THE VATICAN TAPES does a decent job taping into deeper, demonic darkness that hijacks one’s mind, body and soul. (No pun) Where it drops Satan’s ball is within the element of fear factor. Coming off more like a visual, bible study session, its weakness lies upon what I was hoping for – planting the fear seeds of the beast deep within my brain. Major disappointment! 

A grainy display of hand-held cinematography, alongside “stock footage,” sprinkled with a little robotic-like acting accompanies this journey of the unknown. Leaping from emotional level of distress to the next, this spiritual speed-race has its moments of intrigue, as well as Michael Peña, but the end result seemed like a bunch of scenes mashed together to form a circus of darkness.


Grade: C+ / Genre: Horror / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 1:28

Starring: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Michael Peña, Djimon Hounsou

Directed by: Mark Neveldine

The Vatican Tapes Official Poster

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