The Vatican Tapes Movie Review

Written by Steven Wood

Released by Lionsgate

Directed by Mark Neveldine
Written by Christopher Borrelli, Michael C. Martin and Chris Morgan
2015, 91 minutes, Rated PG-13
Theatrical release on July 24th, 2015

Dougray Scott as Roger Holmes
Olivia Taylor Dudley as Angela Holmes
Michael Pena as Father Lozano
Kathleen Robertson as Dr. Richards
John Patrick Amedori as Pete
Djimon Hounsou as Vicar Imani


Angela begins to experience disturbing behavior and when traditional treatment fails, Father Lozano introduces an alternative and more faith driven treatment – an exorcism.

So we have yet another summer released horror film, that’s fine, I’m sure we’re all used to it by now and it’s not like there is another month of the year where horror would really shine. At least I can say The Vatican Tapes is better than most other horror flicks that have come and went this year.

If there is one thing that bothers me regarding exorcism movies, it’s the girl-turned-contortionist trend that’s been seen COUNTLESS times over the past decade or so. There is some redemption, however, but more on that a little later.

Angela is the product of a motherless household, so poor old dad has been raising her since she was born. Her boyfriend Pete is also living with them, but for an undetermined amount of time. None of this really matters since it isn’t the plot driving The Vatican Tapes, but I thought to throw it in there in an effort to give backstory. It’s unfortunate that none of the more interesting things are elaborated upon, especially the priest that comes over to help with the exorcism.

Normally I’d be picking an exorcism movie apart, but my only complaints are against some of the characters and the lack of backstory; and even then the issues are minor and probably won’t irritate the general audience. The scale of shit to awesomeness leans heavily towards the latter.

You know how with some horror movies, the opening/closing credit sequences are interesting and give you that feeling of wanting to see more? That’s the case here and it’s unfortunate. Some of the stuff at the beginning, and especially the end are just begging for elaboration but sadly, we don’t get any. With the movie being titled The Vatican Tapes, what tapes are they referring? Is it the clips we see at the beginning? More interesting, though, is that no one is recording Angela’s exorcism.

Speaking of the end, that’s where the real meat and potatoes come in. The typical formula for most exorcisms is as follows: traditional psychiatry fails and then an all-knowing Priest steps in. Follow that with some preachy preachy words and some holy water and boom – they have exercised the demon. Girl (in 99% of these movies) starts to cry and lives on happily ever after. The Vatican Tapes will have none of this bullshit as they go where some others have been, but then beyond to where maybe only a couple have gone.

This is not the end of the story, at least it shouldn’t be. I’m not normally the type to ask for sequels, but The Vatican Tapes could turn the exorcism subgenre on its head if the story panned out another 90 minutes or so. I’m surprised I didn’t see the subtle hints in the film, especially the name of said possessed girl. It really is haunting and downright scary if you believe in this kind of thing. I’ll admit that I wanted to spoil the shit out of this, but I’d be subject to Hell on Earth if I started to spoil each movie I reviewed.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys this subgenre, contortionists and all.


Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover



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