Year 1973 marked a before and after for horror movies and, more specifically, for the subgenre of diabolical possessions. By then, William Friedkin premiered its still chilling adaptation of the already magnificent novel ‘The Exorcist’ by William Peter Blatty, forever changing the perception of this type of production with an approach as lucid as it is dry and visceral to the original material.
After the cinematographic phenomenon that it was, and that transcended to become a popular icon, ‘The Exorcist’ paved the way for countless exploits that tried to replicate the formula, except for honorable exceptions, without any type of success; including a forgettable prequel released under the subtitle ‘The Beginning’ and much more interesting in terms of the legal struggle for its authorship than for what takes place on the screen.
However, the numerous unsuccessful attempts accumulated over the last five decades —which is said soon— have not prevented Julius Averydirector of the recommendable Nazi-style zombie orgy ‘Overlord’, has contributed his bit to the cause with ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’; a hilarious exercise in demonic horror that manages to stand out from its peers using his tremendous self-confidence, his charming camp spirit and a Russell Crowe in his sauce, having a great time among crucifixes, cotton swabs and bibles.
The power of Christ compels you… to have a great time
It is often said that the devil’s best trick is to make us believe that he doesn’t exist and make us laugh at his figure, and it seems that Avery and the trio of writers responsible for the script have taken the latter to the letter; fleeing from any hint of sobriety and fake seriousness —which, except for surprise, does a disservice— and betting on turning the tight 110 minutes of footage into a party for the most devoted parishioners.
touring a good part of the common places explored a thousand times in homologous tapes, ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ takes his first steps among families marked by trauma, sinister mansions with subterranean surprises and terrors of the underworld. Luckily, what could have been reduced to the umpteenth replica without a soul, progressively transforms into a party more similar to the filmography of Sam Raimi than to the masterpiece of William Friedkin.
Between Our Fathers, Hail Marys and various Vatican conspiracies, the film soaks up the sense of humor of its peculiar protagonist and escape the solemnity of the Rituale Romanum to open the way to a supernatural adventure in which there is room for the most festive splatter, detective investigations from beyond the grave and, even, for an unexpected inclination towards the ecclesiastical buddy movie that feels like a thousand wonders.
Wrapping all this as a gift we find the solvent planning and staging of a Julius Avary who squeezes every last drop of the resulton production design and the inspired photography of Khalid Mohtaseb; outlining an entertainment that embrace the series B with pride and without any shame.
‘The Pope’s Exorcist’ is a real delight for any fan of the genre who wants to have a great time while letting themselves be surprised and enjoy among complicit laughter a pata negra pastiche in which Russell Crowe travels on a scooter in a cassock to exorcise kids in deep Spain. You can not ask for more.
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