Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Movie Review #288: "The Vatican Tapes" (2015)

Movie"The Vatican Tapes"
Ticket Price: $9.75
Director: Mark Neveldine
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Image Source
A young woman named Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) starts to exhibit some strange behaviors. A local priest named Father Lozano (Michael Peña) believes Angela is showing the telltale signs of demon possession. He sends some security footage of the strange occurrences to the Vatican for further examination. After reviewing her case, they send an exorcist named Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) to perform an exorcism on Angela.

I need an old priest, a young priest, and a bottle of holy water, stat!

We went into "The Vatican Tapes" with 0% knowledge of its existence other than the fact that it was playing at the theater where we saw it. This is puzzling since there are some big name actors in it, including Michael Peña (who was most recently in "Ant-Man"), Dougray Scott (who was most recently in "Taken 3"), and Djimon Hounsou, (who was most recently in "Guardians of the Galaxy"). We didn't really know what to expect because this movie is a PG-13 rated horror film, and most of the time, those types of movies, especially the ones without any promotion whatsoever, are the bottom of the barrel dregs of the genre. Unfortunately, we have gotten used to this being the case. We definitely expected the worst, assuming we were in for another "The Gallows" type of experience, and folks, we just wouldn't haven't been able to handle that at all. Most movies about exorcisms since the original "The Exorcist" in 1973 have all kind of been the same formula: people and objects move and float around, bodies contort into weird positions, the possessed spout off unnatural phrases in Aramaic, the taking control of unsuspecting victims, you know, these ol' chestnuts. "The Vatican Tapes" isn't any different as it contains all these demonic possession cliches, in addition to regular horror movie cliches, including the use of a mental institution that looks like a haunted mansion, jump scares, horrible hospitals with freaky lighting, black crows, etc.

Maybe it is because of these low expectations, but this movie actually has some good elements going for it, and despite all of the aforementioned cliches, it's not all bad. From the minute it begins, there is a lot of creepy imagery shown in the form of news footage, interviews, and other occult types of imagery. Though there is some hyper-closeup camerawork used throughout the film, it is not, as it has been falsely labeled by some, a found footage film. The majority of it is filmed in a traditional style, interwoven with security camera footage. They ARE NOT the same, and many critics have been mislabeling it as such. Do they even pay attention?? The story wrapped around this shooting style is a little weak and rather expected, but we found ourselves liking it a helluva lot more than we thought we would. This isn't to say it's a masterpiece, but when it is aided by a haunting premise and some excellent sound effects, you know, the sound of breaking bones, etc, it is really effective in some areas.

We do think the film would have benefited from an R rating, allowing it to notch up the gore and creepy factor just a shade, which could have separated it slightly from other films in the exorcism genre. But just because it's all been done before, doesn't mean we weren't entertained. Olivia Taylor Dudley as Angela is able to unsettle audiences with a simple look and she performs her part of the unwillingly possessed quite well. She has this horrifying and sinister smile and smirk when she is being used as the demon's puppet and with the material she has to work with, she performs the hell out of it. Though much of the film is by-the-book, its ending is at least somewhat original. Even though we like where the movie eventually finishes, the path to get there is rocky and the inevitable climactic exorcism scene feels very rushed and sort of a CGI-bomb. Overall, "The Vatican Tapes" is better than we expected, but still not good enough like some of the newer, more fresher horror films as of late. It's almost short enough to make you forget that you have seen this movie a million times before. It might not bring anything new to the table, but it is certainly not a waste of time in the grand scheme of how many movies we personally see. It was good enough for us.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 17%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

No comments:

Post a Comment