THE VATICAN TAPES (2015)
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Yet another exorcism horror that tells the story of Angela Holmes (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension‘s Olivia Taylor Dudley) one of the demonic cases being investigated by the Vatican. Angela was doing a blog article on the biblical story of the Antichrist and soon started to exhibit disturbing behavior. Convinced there is something demonic involved, a local priest, Father Lozano (Michael Peña) contacts his superiors at the Vatican to join the fight against what might possibly be the Antichrist itself.
On the positive side, director Mark Neveldine (The Crank flicks) does give this horror some atmosphere from Christopher Borrelli and Chris Morgan’s story and script, but the film is so cliché and gets so overblown by it’s last act, that he accomplishes little with it. We get every exorcism scenario in the book from dive bombing black birds, to the demonic voices speaking in another language, to contorting limbs from our victim. The film delivers nothing new nor uses the familiar tropes in a fresh or interesting way, so the film fails to get our attention. When it is revealed in the last act that Angela is the embodiment of the Antichrist itself, it just feels overblown and silly. The exorcism attempt by Lozano and Vatican Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) is tired and by the numbers and our open ending implying apocalyptic doom just makes us roll our eyes instead of hide them behind our fingers. It’s all been done before and quite a lot recently, so it is just routine and un-involving. The film lacks any of the energy of Neveldine’s Crank movies and it could have used some to wake us and the tired story up.
The cast is actually pretty good. Leading lady Olivia Taylor Dudley tries hard to look and act possessed and evil and if she were in a better film with better dialog we might have appreciated her efforts more. Peña is likable and solid as Father Lozano but, it is a cliché role as is Andersson’s Cardinal Bruun. Dijmon Hounsou appears briefly as a very concerned high level Vatican official and is also solid in a small role. Dougray Scott is a bit overbearing as Angela’s military dad, but that basically is the character. Rounding out is John Patrick Amedori as Angela’s boyfriend and Kathleen Robertson as Angela’s psychiatrist, while she is locked up for her increasingly violent behavior. Both their roles are fairly stereotypical.
Not much to recommend here. The film is of a subject that has become very routine in horror recently and done in a way that doesn’t freshen it up or make it interesting. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and tells a story oft told and told better. It has a good cast and a little atmosphere, but it’s not enough to recommend one sit through it.