The horror genre is a strange one to be a fan of. There are plenty of sub-genres and topics that seem to be way too over-utilized, but fortunately for the fans, there are some filmmakers out there that can still breath new life into the same old stories. Mark Neveldine was able to do just that with his latest supernatural flick, The Vatican Tapes.
Angela Holmes is your average 27-year-old, but shortly after her birthday, her boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori, The Butterfly Effect) and father (Dougray Scott, Hemlock Grove) start noticing that her behavior seems a bit odd. After she causes a sudden car accident, Angela falls into a coma and is pronounced dead weeks later. As soon as her loved ones are hit with the fact that she is gone, however, she is revived and miraculously makes a speedy recovery. It isn’t until after this event, though, that things get really out of control. Angela is placed into a psychiatric facility and after that proves unsuccessful, she is placed into the care of Father Lozano (Michael Pena, End of Watch) and Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), who must perform an exorcism to save Angela’s soul.
As soon as you hear the title The Vatican Tapes, you, like me, might assume that you’re in for yet another found footage dud. I was extremely pleased to find out that this was not the case with this one, although writers Chris Morgan and Christopher Borelli are the first to admit that this was their original plan for the script that they co-authored. The move to a traditional feature film was the smartest thing this team could have made. It helps the film stand out amongst the overcrowded sea of possession films and just works so much better. No need for fans to worry about shaky hand-held shots or nauseating upside-down camera angles.
The Vatican Tapes features a strong cast of performers including Michael Pena, Dougray Scott, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Pare, and John Patrick Amedori. It was nice to see Amedori return to the horror genre, as I had not seen him since he played a young Ashton Kutcher in 2004’s The Butterfly Effect and while it was strange to see Pena in a role so serious, I was very pleased with the normally very funny actor’s performance. Honestly, the entire cast did an amazing job and worked together beautifully on screen. My favorite performance of all, however, was by Peter Andersson who played Cardinal Bruun with a ferocity no other clergyman has displayed on film before. He knew what he was up against in this demon and he was not going to take any crap or tip toe around the fact that this poor girl was trapped inside of her own body; He knew what he had to do and did so without hesitation.
While the idea of watching another supernatural film felt extremely stale, once things got going, The Vatican Tapes proved to be a great horror experience. I can honestly say this film is certainly one of the most intense possession films out there. Without giving too much away, the scale of this film feels much larger than most and with some of the most cringe-worthy bone-breaking contortions I’ve seen in an exorcism film, you definitely don’t want to miss this one.
I know it doesn’t sound very feasible to watch yet another horror flick involving possessions and exorcism, but if you do happen to get the urge, look no further than The Vatican Tapes. You won’t be disappointed! Be sure to pick up the film, available now one DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
I give this one an official Repulsive Rating of 3.5 ravens out of 5.