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The Pope's Exorcist (2023)

The Pope's Exorcist (2023)

Russell Crowe is a blast to watch in this otherwise generic exorcism thriller



Spain, United Kingdom
English, Fulah, German
Horror, Thriller
Alessandro Gruttadauria, Alex Essoe, Andrea Dugoni
103 min


Someone put Russell Crowe in a legal drama, stat!

What it's about

The pope’s chief exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth (Russell Crowe), is called to Spain to drive out a demon who is all too familiar with Amorth’s troubled past.

The take

As a supernatural horror, The Pope’s Exorcist doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It employs more or less the usual elements you’d expect from the genre, and to be fair, it does occasionally fright you with its bloody jumpscares and demonic screeches. But as a drama, the film is surprisingly watchable thanks to a committed and compelling performance from Crowe. The movie works best when it removes itself from its horror trappings and follows Crowe’s Gabriele as he moves through the ins and outs of the Vatican. When he challenges the church’s authority, when he defends his practice, when he inserts jokes in serious conversations because “the devil hates jokes,” these are when The Pope’s Exorcist shines and entertains. They’re also proof the film shouldn’t take itself too seriously when its star is having this much fun. 

What stands out

There is a moment early on in the film when Father Gabriele is brought in and questioned by a tribunal of higher priests. It is an excellent scene. Like any great trial, it’s intense, suspenseful, and dramatic. The scene bides its time and escalates gradually, carefully, like a line graph that grooves up and down instead of shooting straight to the highest point. Gabriele calmly diffuses a charged accusation and offers a light-hearted joke before launching into a piercing comeback—it’s great fun to watch. Unfortunately, it’s buried in a film that’s too concerned about serving scares than genuine thrills.


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