“The Pope’s Exorcist” Won’t Compel You

by Christian Ramos on May 9, 2023

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist Way Down]

2023 is the 50th anniversary of a particular horror film that popularized the world of demonic possessions, vomiting of pea soup and exorcists. Since then, it’s all pretty much gone downhill! In yet another version of “hey you know what movie the people want to see?!”, The Pope’s Exorcist (directed by Julius Avery) provides very little to the imagination on what it takes to give audiences an actual thrilling exorcist movie. Don’t even get me started on the accent of Russel Crowe

Based on a (alleged) true story, Father Gabriele Amorth (Crowe) the Pope’s personal exorcist is hired to visit a family in Spain. Mom Julia (Alex Essoe) and her two kids Amy (Laurel Marsden) and Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) have taken possession of a family home, which happened to be a former monastery. However, sinister events occur almost immediately which lead to young Henry being possessed by the evil that lurks in the basement of the house. Enter Amorth who, along with Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto) have to face the demon head-on. Soon, they discover the past of the house and dive deep into the dark basement of the home to reveal the evil that lurks below. Amorth has to help this family before it is too late and evil unleashes its full force not only on the family, but on the world itself. 

This was literally nothing I haven’t seen before. It’s cheesy to the point I laughed when I first heard the forced Italian accent of Crowe and it’s not even scary. Every “scare” in this has been found in countless exorcism movies for the past four decades. It was more of a chore in getting through this than anything. An interesting note is that the real Father Amorth is the subject of William Friedkin’s The Devil and Father Amorth which itself isn’t very good either. Maybe the Pope’s personal exorcist (not to be confused with the pope’s personal exerciser – his fitness guru) shouldn’t be the subject of two movies that go nowhere. In this I found more homages to The Conjuring and that universe that I should have. 

Does Russell Crowe really need to make a movie like this in 2023? The Pope’s Exorcist is so riddled with cliches it’s not even funny! And yet, the audience was packed because “scary” movies are just something we want to see even though most times, they are a painful slog to get through. 

Christian Ramos is a classic film fan, having had the dream to host Turner Classic Movies for years now. He also has a large amount of Oscar trivia in his head, remembers dressing as Groucho Marx one Halloween, and cherishes the moment Julianne Moore liked his tweet.


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