Reviews: Criticism of “The Exorcist of the Pope” by Julius Avery, with Russell Crowe

Nothing new in the realm of exorcists and the exorcism subgenre.

The Pope’s Exorcist (The Pope’s Exorcist, United States/2023). Director: Julius Avery. Screenplay: Evan Spiliotopoulos and Michael Petroni, based on the biography of Gabriele Amorth. Cast: Russell Crowe, Alex Essoe, Daniel Zovatto, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, Franco Nero, Laurel Marsden, Cornell John, Bianca Bardoe, Ryan O’Grady, and Santi Bayon. Music: Jed Kurzel. Photography: Khalid Mohtaseb. Distributor: UIP (Sony). Duration: 103 minutes. Suitable for over 16 years.

The list of movies with the devil sticking his tail adds a new title with this production preceded with the always dubious label of “based on a true story.” In this case, that of Father Gabriele Amorth, one of the most renowned exorcists in the Vatican and whom the New Zealander Russell Crowe interprets with a relaxed air that is not in keeping with a grim and sepulchral general tone.

The protagonist of Gladiator is summoned from Spain, more precisely from a small hundred-year-old abbey whose heirs –a family made up of mother Julia (Alex Essoe), her youngest son Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) and her teenage daughter Amy (Laurel Marsden, Zoe in the series ms marvel)– are in the middle of the restoration process and plan to stay there for a while.

Matters get complicated when Henry starts displaying strange behaviors. At first, Mom thinks of him, it is due to mourning the tragic death of his father in a traffic accident. But when he starts speaking in a guttural voice that isn’t his own, it becomes clear there’s more to it than unresolved trauma.

Seconded by Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), Amorth will be exposed to screams, furniture that moves by itself, wounds all over the victim’s body and an evil spirit and, above all, very talented in the art of manipulation. Sound familiar? It is. Julius Avery’s filmOperation Overlord) presents a story that, although it delivers its good scares, does not differ too much from the rest of the exorcism subgenre. What there is, then, is almost the same as always.

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