Academy Award winner Russell Crowe falls into the darkness of the horror genre with a truly terrifying story based in true history in The Pope’s Exorcist. And this is a chilling watch that will rock you to your core!
Inspired by the actual files of Father Gabriele Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican (Academy Award®-winner Russell Crowe), The Pope’s Exorcist follows Amorth as he investigates a young boy’s terrifying possession and ends up uncovering a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has desperately tried to keep hidden.
Academy Award winner Russell Crowe is one of the biggest draw cards in cinema history. Moving between genres and characters, he’s an actor that commands the attention of an audience and now he jumps head first into the horror genre with the freakishly scary true-life tale of The Pope’s Exorcist. Crowe assumes the role of Father Gabriele Amorth, a Roman Catholic priest who served as the Chief Exorcist of the Vatican for more than 25 years and performed more than 50,000 exorcisms in his time in the church. His life and work are well documented and make for a fitting cinematic adaptation that examines the very essence of light and dark and the battle between good and evil. And the horror gets sinister when dark secrets and an unholy spirit rises up in The Pope’s Exorcist.
Director Julius Avery is becoming a go-to filmmaker when it comes to the horror genre and his previous work on the chilling Overlord made for good practice with The Pope’s Exorcist. Avery winds back the clock with The Pope’s Exorcist and takes us back to the early 1980s. A haunted former monastery in Castile, Spain proves to be the grounds for the presence of a wicked demonic possession of an innocent family and soon Father Amorth is sent to investigate. Mixing together genre elements from paranormal-gothic horror to the detective procedural to conspiracy thriller, all of it plays a part in The Pope’s Exorcist and the results make for a terrifying picture. Not only is the gore ramped up, but Avery gives the film a real psychological edge as Crowe’s Father Amorth goes mano-o-mano with a nameless demon that seeks to get inside his head and test his very soul.
While Crowe has only slightly dabbled in the horror genre it’s a lot of fun to see him fully commit to The Pope’s Exorcist and it’s obvious that he had a blast with the role. The Pope’s Exorcist is that rare scary movie that is very much a character-driven horror experience and is all due to Crowe’s role as Father Amorth. As the learned, devout, inquisitive, and good-natured priest, Crowe’s Amorth is a man who recognises the line between mental health and sheer evil, and it is in this situation that he finds his test. Crowe’s performance is shaped by an almost Falstafien sense of range and dynamic charisma, and there’s plenty of humour and goodwill in his performance. But when darkness falls this priest must call upon his deepest faith to face down the beasts of hell and there are plenty of nerve-racking moments on screen. It’s a lot of fun to see Crowe mix things up the way he does in The Pope’s Exorcist, and I’d certainly be keen to see more from him in the role.
While audiences have become accustomed to the scares of recent paranormal thrillers such as The Conjuring, The Pope’s Exorcist is a horror experience that feels fresher. Its character-driven narrative and use of dark sordid history, including the Catholic church’s role in the horrific events of The Spanish Inquisition, lead it to an experience that’s innovative and intense on screen. The scares hit hard, and Avery’s approach to representing demonic possession, satanic horror and utilising a mix of both practical and visual effects makes it an all the more real and organic experience. The result is a pulse-pounding and freakish watch and audiences will be left wide-eyed and wanting more before the credits start to roll.
Get ready to go to hell and back and come face to face with the devil himself because The Pope’s Exorcist delivers the excitement, thrills and sheer terror that horror fans have been wanting.
Image: Sony Pictures