The Vatican Tapes [MOVIE REVIEW]

Honestly, there was only one reason I decided to look up this movie once it was finally available. Michael Peña. This has really been a great year for him as he was one of the best parts of 'Ant-Man' and was also really good in 'The Martian'. What was similar with those two films however was that he had more of a comedic role in both of them so imagining him starring in a horror film just seemed like icing on the cake for me to not take 'The Vatican Tapes' seriously. Turns out, the movie did not need Michael Peña to make me unable to take it seriously.

Before I get into it I will say that I am really glad the film was not found-footage as that is what I was expecting. Seeing a modern horror film (especially an exorcism film) not be found-footage is all too rare nowadays but sadly it does not help 'The Vatican Tapes' overcome the poor directing, half-assed structure and shoddy editing. Of course this is really what should be expected from a big studio horror film that is not directed by James Wan at this point but it has to be said that it really does not have to be like this. My solution is actually not what you might expect as I can imagine you thinking "well all he is going to say is to just make better exorcism films". My solution though is to stop making them althogether. At this point we have seen it all. In fact we saw it all over 40 years ago with 'The Exorcist'. Everything after that has just been trying to capitalize on the success of that film and barely try and make it new.

'The Vatican Tapes' has nothing new to offer us in terms of scares, characters or story and it irritates me that filmmakers still do not realize this and continues to pump out junk like this. The first 10 minutes really shocked my with just how by the numbers it all was as they do not even hold out on the woman to be possessed. Remember the excellent character development and perfectly eerie tension to get you hooked on the story? Well, imagine if they took out a whole 30 minutes or more out of it and leave us with 5 minutes to let us get to know the characters and then immediately have the leading lady start acting weird. There is no development here, there is not enough time to make us care and it just comes across like a wikipedia outline on every exorcism movie ever made.

The directing by Mark Neveldine is really poor. It does not seem like he has a clue on how horror movies work and includes some scares we have seen before - but without the pre-established build up to make us engaged in it. Then of course all the "scares" the movie had were so poorly executed that they just made me laugh more than anything. But of course I should have expected poor directing from the guy who did 'Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance'. What actually surprised me the most was just how bad the score was because this is by the same guy who composed 'The Conjuring' and all three 'Insidious' films. He did a great job in all of them - especially 'The Conjuring' which has a magnificent score. But here in 'The Vatican Tapes' it just feels like someone started tapping keys that sounded scary. There is nothing unique or interesting about it. It just drones on in the background and takes out of the film more than it adds to it (which is really bad seeing as the movie itself took me out of it).

Overall, 'The Vatican Tapes' is not a movie worth watching in any stretch of the imagination. It has nothing worthwhile to offer and all the scares the movie has have failed through terrible execution. The only thing semi-interesting the movie has is the ending that did surprise me but it does not change the fact that this is a terrible by the numbers movie that not even the filmmakers will remember in a couple of months. The directing is terrible, the editing is terrible, the score is terrible and the acting is subpar at best.


- Lucas


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