The Vatican Tapes
It doesn’t take a connoisseur to understand that the domain of horror, as with many cinematic genres, is divided into two general camps: those high concept, well thought-out stories that introduce intriguing mechanics to really push the envelope in terms of fear factor, and those that fall back upon the same tired tropes of ancient curses, red paint and monsters shouting “boo!”. The Vatican Tapes exists firmly in the latter category, and that’s only the beginning of its problems.
The film ostensibly tells the story of two guys from the Vatican who are responsible for putting a stop to demonic possessions around the world; Batman and Robin as exorcists, if you will. So far this sounds very promising. Unfortunately, what this film actually deals with is an increasingly dislikeable and wholly stereotyped suburban family in which the daughter is, through a highly contrived sequence of events, hit by a bird and turned into the Antichrist. As you do. Cue, naturally, any excuse for creepy whispering, redshirts acting completely oblivious until it’s far too late, and a good helping of unnatural writing and contorting. But even this is very clearly laden with digital fakery, making it just as hollow as everything else in the film.
Michael Peña is also in this movie, but not for any clear reason, because he plays everything so dour and humourless throughout. It’s a real shame, because as the wisecracking exorcist Robin to Djimon Honsou’s exorcist Batman he would have been far more entertaining. The rest of the cast are all largely disposable: the lead is a pretty blonde who slowly transforms into a satanic beastie, there’s the overprotective ex-military dad, the clueless boyfriend, and so on, because clearly, it’s a sin to have well-rounded characters in a story where even a toddler could tell you the ending (a really sad, messed-up toddler, mind you).
Add to this TV movie-level directing and a comprehensive absence of any happiness or good humour, and The Vatican Tapes is not just a disappointment but genuinely unwatchable.
The Vatican Tapes is released nationwide on 30th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Vatican Tapes here: