“A vulgar display of power” – The Vatican Tapes (DVD Review)

Angela Holmes is the daughter of a slut, who awakens from a coma after 40 days. Evidently this is some of the criteria necessary to bring about the coming of the Anti-Christ.

Perhaps my expectations were raised too high by names like Michael Peña or Djimon Hounsou. I knew enough not to hope for a Dan Brown-style supernatural thriller, but would it have killed them to at least try? Luckily the implied found footage element is kept to the bare minimum, present only it seems to make the title of the movie appear relevant.

It opens with all bells chiming and whistles screaming, bombarding the senses with supposedly genuine news reports of spiritual phenomena, one of which I’m pretty sure is the hospital scene from The Devil Inside (2012) in which the lead actress bends in half, backwards. After this flashy segment, all excitement dissipates as the movie plunges into mediocrity.

the-vatican-tapes

Devoid of any tension or dread, flares of interest only spark when Vatican borrows elements from similarly themed films, such as Richard Donner’s The Omen (1976) and its sequel Damien: Omen II (1978).

I despair people because there seems to be a steady rain of unimaginative, uninteresting possession movies pissing down on us from the U.S. of late. Are they trying to make us beg for that Exorcist remake that they keep threatening the world with? There have been few arguably valiant attempts at originality. Grace: The Possession (2014) for example, much like Franck Khalfoun’s 2012 remake of Maniac (1980), was shot predominantly through the main character’s P.O.V.

the-vatican-tapes03

Some redemption can be found in Vatican’s finale, the showdown between the possessed Angela and the exorcist. It is the first time that she can be seen as even marginally creepy. Borrowing once again, it tries to take the sickening, bone-breaking antics of The Devil Inside and The Last Exorcism (2010) to the next level. It even makes the bold choice of making a “display of power”, as Regan once explained to Father Karras was “too vulgar”.

And with good reason too, as it runs the high-wire risk of being funny, which is the very last thing that this dead in the water dud needs

2 / 5

Dir: Mark Neveldine

Scr: Christopher Borrelli, Michael C. Martin

Starring: Michael Pena, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Alison Lohman, Djimon Hounsou, Dougray Scott

Prd: Chris Cowles, Gary Lucchesi, Chris Morgan, Tom Rosenberg

DOP: Geraldo Mateo Madrazo

Music: Joseph Bishara

Country: USA

Year: 2015

Run time: 91 mins

The Vatican Tapes is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.