The Pope’s Exorcist
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Russell Crowe hams it up in the mumbo-jumbo possession flick The Pope’s Exorcist

Director Julius Avery teams up with Academy Award winner Russell Crowe for his fourth film, The Pope’s Exorcist, from Screen Gems. The screenplay comes from Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos and is based on the 1990 books An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories by Father Gabriele Amorth. 

Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican (Crowe), has just completed another successful exorcism he did without his superiors’ permission. Already seen as unorthodox due to wit and whiskey drinking, this latest incident isn’t particularly boding well for him.

Julia (Alex Essoe) has just uprooted her daughter Amy (Laurel Marsden) and young son Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) to Italy to revamp a home left to her by her late husband. Angst-ridden teenager Amy isn’t sold on the move, and due to a traumatic incident, Peter is rendered mute. Shortly after arriving, Henry begins to display bizarre behavior. When an MRI shows nothing unusual, the local priest Father Esquirbel (Daniel Zovatto). After getting spooked by Henry, Father Esquirbel calls in reinforcements. 

The reinforcement happens to be Father Amorth, who the Pope summons to investigate Henry’s terrifying possession. However, in horror movie fashion Father Amorth ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden. Possession movies are one of the horror tropes that’s hit or miss. 

Honestly, every possession film seems to chase the precedence set by The Exorcist fifty years ago. As horror aficionados know this will never happen, you can’t fault creatives for trying. That said, the view of The Pope’s Exorcist will depend on what you want from a possession movie. I will throw it out there, the film isn’t scary, and Russell Crowe’s laughable accent may hinder some viewers. 

Crowe is committed to the material, though, and while he can sleepwalk through like this, he does give us a character to root for. On Saturday night, as I sat in my showing with a sold-out crowd, the film went over well, particularly the scenes that get the best of both priests in a game of wits, with Ralph Ineson providing solid voice work as the demon. 

Like The Devil’s DueThe Unborn, and any other film exorcism released in the last twenty years, I’ll never revisit The Pope’s Exorcist. However, fans of Crowe and possession may want to give it a whirl.


Final Grade: C

The Pope’s Exorcist is in theaters now

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