A priest and a Vatican exorcist must work to cleanse the soul
of a young woman who becomes the vessel for the Antichrist.
The Vatican Tapes (2015)
Directed by Mark Neveldine
Written by Christopher Borrelli and Michael C. Martin
Starring Olivia Taylor Dudley, Michael Peña, Dougray Scott,
John Patrick Amedori, Peter Andersson, Djimon Hounsou
Exorcism films are a dime a dozen, and none of them have ever come close to the film they all try to replicate. But occasionally there's one that dares to go in a different direction and try its damndest to bring something new to the table. I think this is what The Vatican Tapes was trying to do, though it could've been done better. The finished product isn't a bad film, but it's a far cry from a good one. The film is devoid of scares and hammers home The Exorcist references, but the creativity that went into the script and the amazing performance from Olivia Taylor Dudley both help keep this film from being a total waste of time. In fact, it may just be a cult hit waiting to blossom.
When young Angela (Dudley) begins to experience bizarre mood swings and slips into a 40-day coma, she's committed to a mental hospital where Father Lozano (Michael Peña) begins to think she may be possessed. When he brings his case to the Vatican, two Cardinals believe Angela's case may be the prophesized coming of the Antichrist. I didn't expect the film to go in that direction, but I'm very glad it did. It kept the film from being yet another generic entry in the exorcism subgenre. The entire third act sets up an entirely new film that I doubt we will ever get, though I'd love to see it. What would happen if the Antichrist were alive on earth right now? What would he/she be doing? These are the questions the film tries to answer, and if it had focused more on these questions, I've no doubt this film would've scored higher.
The Vatican Tapes gets points for originality, but there's a lot that holds it back. Most of the film goes exactly how you'd expect an exorcism film to go, and the supporting characters aren't exactly standouts. But the third act goes above and beyond your expectations, and actually brings up an interesting situation that hasn't been touched on a lot in film, short of The Omen. Maybe repeated viewings will open up more of this film. There's definitely potential there.