Free Press Journal

Movie Review: The Vatican Tapes – Apocalyptic Horror


Cast: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Michael Peña, Dougray Scott, Peter Andersson,Djimon Hounsou,John Patrick Amedori, Cas Anwar
Director: Mark Neveldine
At the outset, let me warn the viewer about regarding this movie as gospel truth (remember the Dan Brown potboilers?) We could debate till kingdom come about the best  response to evil (as in  terrorism) but I’m afraid The Vatican Tapes ignores a radical teaching of Jesus Christ: “Do not resist evil with evil.” Jesus did not  ask us to be passive in the face of evil. He went on to say, “Rather, overcome evil with good.” Which is why, when the Catholic Church decides to do battle with evil in the form demonic possession (it is the right of the atheist to challenge the reality of the phenonema) it uses prayer as a weapon. Not the wickedly gleaming knife that exorcist Cardinal (Anderson) Bruun  uses  to threaten the possessed Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley ) Holmes after ignoring the appeal by soldier- turned -priest Fr Lozano (Michael Pena) to desist and say Mass before the ritual.
Readers might like to know a special course is offered at a Vatican-affiliated University in Rome called “Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation”  which is open to all, priests, nuns and laypersons. Intriguingly, the Cardinal who has first hand experience of demon-possession does not rope in a trained exorcist like say, Fr Imani (Djimon Hounsou, under-employed) but relies on newbie Lozano. Gratifyingly, the demon’s (mercifully, thwarted) attempt to kill babies  who are closest to God) and harrowing successes with medical orderlies,policemen and her near and dear ones, her father Roger ( Dougray Scott) and boyfriend  (John Patrick Amedori) fail to deter Fr Lozano. As he tells the demon in an eyeball to eyeball encounter, “I am not afraid of you.”
Screenwriters Christopher Borrelli and Michael C. Martin  relied on tried and tested elements like bodily contortions and a Babel of languages; even so, the film succeeds in  creating a sense of doom and invasion through wonderful camerawork  (esp. the raven,which is associated with the dead and with lost souls) and  moody music (John BIshara’s) as well as clever use of  found footage and  docu shots (eg Popes John Paul the Second and Francis)  But what makes the narrative too good to be true is that the demon who once possessed the Cardinal as a boy now possesses the girl. Also, the satanic entity is referred to as the Anti-Christ whose agenda  is world domination.  Clearly,Mark Neveldine (Gamer/Ghost Rider) is a fan of the  apocalypse.