Friday 2 June 2023

The Pope's Exorcist (2023)

Like everyone, my mood can decide how I respond to a movie. Catch me on a good day and I may be receptive and kind. Catch me on a bad day and the film may have to work a lot harder to get me to warm to it. The Pope’s Exorcist caught me on a very good day. That is the only way I can explain why I enjoyed it so much.

Russell Crowe, going all out with his Italian accent, plays Father Gabriel Amorth, the titular character. He can battle demons whenever the need arises, but he can also spot other problems, and deal with them accordingly. When a family starts to have a serious problem, in the shape of the youngest member being possessed by a demon who demands an encounter with Father Amorth, the stage is set for the kind of epic battle of wills that can only end when souls are completely saved. Or completely damned.

Directed by Julius Avery (who did the excellent Overlord and the not-so-excellent Samaritan), this is everything you think it is going to be, a slick horror movie with dollops of CGI used to show demon activity, a BIG performance from Crowe, and lots of moments that feel highly derivative.

Writers Michael Petroni, Evan Spiliotopolous, and others who helped form the main story, are aware that their central character comes with a whole load of horror movie baggage (it won’t take anyone long to find out why he is such a notable figure in the horror genre), and they don’t shy away from moments that will feel familiar to anyone with a moderate interest in the genre. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the script leans heavily into the familiar, using a lot of standard horror movie moments as a background that highlights the humour and personality of the central character, and that proves to be a surprisingly good approach.

Crowe is a lot of fun here, keeping a twinkle in his eye and a wry grin on his face right up until the second that things get intense and dangerous. He seems to be having a blast, and his amusement and energy are infectious. Alex Essoe, Peter Desouza-Feighoney, and Laurel Marsden are the family members who end up trying to fend off a demonic onslaught, with both Essoe and Marsden doing great work while Desouza-Feighoney seems to have been picked for his suitability with the practical and digital effects. Daniel Zovatto is your typical inexperienced “assistant”, aka the young priest to fight alongside the old priest, and he’s fine, but bonus points go to whoever decided to cast Franco Nero as his Holiness himself, the Pope. He isn’t onscreen often, but he appears just often enough to raise a smile.

I rolled my eyes when The Pope’s Exorcist began, and I rolled my eyes with every new “revelation”. But I was also smiling as I rolled my eyes. And, maybe because I was in a very good mood, I soon realised that I was rolling my eyes a bit less and smiling a bit more, despite the standard CGI tricks and the hugely predictable third act. I enjoyed this. I would watch it again. I would also definitely watch any sequel based around Crowe’s portrayal of this character.


If you have enjoyed this, or any other, review on the blog then do consider the following ways to show your appreciation. A subscription/follow costs nothing.
It also costs nothing to like/subscribe to the YouTube channel attached to the podcast I am part of -
Or you may have a couple of quid to throw at me, in Ko-fi form -
Or Amazon is nice at this time of year -

No comments:

Post a Comment