If during The Exorcist you wondered what would have happened if Pazuzu punched Regan through a wall, or Father Merrin added some WrestleMania moves to his repertoire then allow The Vatican Tapes to help realise your dreams. Directed by Mark Neveldine, one half of the team who gave us the adrenaline soaked Crank series, the film follows young, sweet Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) who has started displaying some seriously out of character behaviour, such as swearing, being insatiably horny, talking in tongues and slipping into a 40 day coma.
When a trip to the local asylum fails to cure her, hospital chaplain, Father Lozano (Antman’s Michael Pena) calls in the help of Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) who tackles the situation like Father McGruder in Brain Dead: kicking arse for the lord. Dougray Scott shows up playing Angela’s father, looking shell-shocked throughout and it’s no wonder.
Even with its central violent exorcism and gruesomely imaginative deaths – someone snuffs it by the application of lightbulbs to the eye sockets – The Vatican Tapes is a steroid induced version of events seen before in other films of this ilk. Neveldine’s erratic usage of shakey cam and speaker blowing sound means some viewers could come out feeling like they’ve been beaten around the head with a bag of bibles.
And where do The Vatican Tapes come into play? Well, whilst the Pope’s turf does make an appearance to bookend the film, like the best exploitations, the title is a bit of a misnomer likely left over from its days as a black list script for a found footage that was dusted off and re-written. Perhaps its biggest sin though is leaving us with a tantalizing ending that suggests, given better pacing, the film could have given us a horror take on celebrity worship.
This review originally appeared in FilmInk.