Film Review: Father Gabriele May Need Some Extra Holy Water For This One

The Pope’s Exorcist is a supernatural horror film directed by Julius Avery. Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Russell Crowe stars in the lead role as Father Gabriele Amorth, who apparently served as the Pope’s head exorcist for many years. He wrote a couple of books, and this film is based on one of his recorded cases. I suspect it is very loosely based on one of these cases. Anyway, the cast includes Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero, and Ralph Ineson.

A young widow brings her children to a Spanish abbey, which was bequeathed to her late husband. She plans to have it restored and sold. There is a demonic presence who has other ideas and takes possession of the young boy was with his father when he was killed in a car accident. Father Gabriele is sent at the request of a young local priest whose attempt at an exorcism did not go so well. Gabriele is facing his own challenges in the Church when he was being questioned about a supposed unauthorized exorcism. He is soon convinced that he is dealing with a very powerful demon, and the two priests will have their work cut out for them.

This falls short of being a remarkable film, but I sort of liked it because Father Gabriele is a bit more assured than many other protagonists in this sort of film. Gabriele also displays flashes of humor throughout the film. He is a man who carries some guilt over some past mistakes, as we all do. The younger priest has some skeletons of his own as well. Anyway, Crowe is a very competent actor and does well in spite of a somewhat inconsistent script. The special effects were pretty good. There was not much unique about the demon portrayed here. Some of the usual tropes showed up such as alarming bodily contortions and loads of profanity coming from the mouths of children. I did like there was a bit of a mystery to unravel as to the history of the abbey and of course, the identity of the demon. The story did affirm the power of faith in Jesus Christ, which was nice. Some of the gore seemed to be a bit unnecessary, but I am not one that is squeamish. Really, the whole thing was rather mediocre, but Russell Crow and a somewhat uniquely pleasant and humorous exorcist helps this stand out a little. As far as possession films go, The Pope’s Exorcist is one of the better ones.

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