I’ll say one thing for certain about THE VATICAN EXORCISMS: the DVD artwork looks great and is a compelling draw to watch the movie. The imagery is beyond creepy, and it invokes dread from the get go. But even though the cover promotes the film well, the actual movie is a bit lacking. It starts off with a fairly decent (albeit very familiar) concept, but the audience is left wanting much more after the credits roll. Still, the film is slightly entertaining, even if it is because of the hokey possession-acting.
If you are not familiar with THE VATICAN EXORCISMS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:
Black masses, orgies, and possession: The horrifying story that the church tried to bury. Hoping to expose a shocking scandal inside the Vatican, a documentary filmmaker travels to Rome to interview several key witnesses but finds himself unearthing something far more sinister. Delving deeper he becomes dangerously close to exposing a much darker reality of corruption and demonic forces. As he is drawn further into the satanic underworld, he soon discovers that sometimes the truth is best kept hidden.
The idea of the Vatican concealing many dark secrets is not a new one, however it is fascinating to ponder. Several films have been made in regard to this concept over the years, however they all seem to fall short for some reason. Maybe it’s the lack of factual evidence, or maybe it’s because the films never fully flesh out the supposed ‘findings’…I’m not sure. But the idea is certainly ripe for a horror film.
THE VATICAN EXORCISMS is shot in standard ‘found-footage’ style and brings nothing new to the table in that regard. Many of the scenes are very shaky but nothing that should make the viewer nauseous. The shooting locations look great, however, as the film was shot on location in Italy.
The acting is decent, with director Joe Marino in the lead. Although he does a good job for the most part, some of his supporting cast is lacking. The one that sticks out most in my mind is the last possessed victim, who contorts his body in a variety of ways. Although the idea is a good one, this guy doesn’t really pull it off very well. You can tell he’s double-jointed from the start, and the novelty (i.e. gruesomeness) is lost on the audience immediately. This is technically a minor complaint, but I feel it needs to be mentioned.
The actual storyline of THE VATICAN EXORCISMS is where I find the most problems. It starts off fairly strong, but then quickly degrades. The film never really decides what it wants to be (Vatican cover-up thriller…possession horror…psychological horror?) or where it wants to go. As a result, it feels thrown-together, a mish-mash of scenes that might possibly be scary…if presented in the right context.
As much as it pains me to say this (because I love a good possession movie, and I love Anchor Bay), I can’t recommend THE VATICAN EXORCISMS. That is, unless you are completely unfamiliar with possession movies or the found-footage genre; that’s probably the only way you’d enjoy this one. The film hits store shelves next week, in case you want to take a look.