Movies about demonic possession and exorcism always intrigue us, even though we’re quite aware of the end. Most of the times, these films tend to get tedious with the oft-rehashed plots. Breaking away from the ubiquitous cliches of the genre, Mark Neveldine tries to give us a different exorcism film with The Vatican Tapes. However, the film misses its chance to shine.
It begins with hazy video clippings on exorcism and priests talking about mysterious dark forces. The scene then shifts to Vatican City where Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) and Vicar Imani (Djimon Hounsou) discuss the inevitable danger that’s coming to Earth. A flashback starts and we are introduced to Angela. Angela (Olivia Dudley) is a young woman with a loving boyfriend, Pete, and a caring father, Colonel Roger Holmes. On her 27th birthday, Angela cuts her finger while slicing the cake. Soon, weird and spooky things start happening to Angela. She is stalked by ravens, her throat is always dry and she starts acting strange. She also hears voices, begins convulsing and starts speaking in an unknown language. Common symptoms, aren’t they? But it takes a while for Angela’s father and boyfriend to realize that she is possessed and not mentally disturbed.
The rest of the film trudges along the same lines as any other exorcism film. If you are a horror movie fan, this film will not impress you. Mark Neveldine uses static-filled ‘Vatican Tapes’ to pump up the fear factor. The jump-scares are predictable. However, Olivia Dudley’s performance as the possessed woman will definitely give you the creeps. She is actually good. Her shrieks and deadpan stare are gripping and will make you twitchy. This combined with the eerie background score by Joseph Bishara, build up the necessary tension in the film.
Except for Olivia Dudley, the rest of the cast gives a mediocre performance. Michael Peña as Father Lozano tries his best to make the character interesting. Dougray Scott will bore you.
Why should you watch the film?
If you enjoy horror films, The Vatican Tapes can be what you watch this weekend. Even though the film treads along a very cliched plot, the final act is really good. If you need a break from romantic films, Vatican Tapes will amuse you.