The Vatican Tapes (2015)

October 28th, 2015
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Mark Neveldine

Cast: Dougary Scott, Michael Pena, Djimon Hounsou, Olivia Dudley

91mins. Horror. US

THE VATICAN TAPES takes a case of demonic possession all very seriously in this eminently screechy, head-swiveling shocker that would have us believe that the Devil is amongst us. Well didn’t we know that already? So what new delights has director Mark Neveldine to import to us in his glossy-lensed jerky-handed derivative horror outing that cleverly combines all the classics horror  tropes with some mean dialogue to boot. Abandoning the found footage formula of the original 2009 outing, it opts instead for a Vatican top-secret security cam formula.

The opening titles are rather seductively misleading in suggesting that this is going to be a well-mounted Vatican costume drama, where two vicars (one black, one white) investigate paranormal ecclesiastical activity. But we cut to comtempo LA where a Kristen Stewart lookalike blond is smoozing her BF: “honey, you look so beautiful” says he but within a short bus ride, during which a raven crashes through the windscreen, she has morphed into a hard-edged snarling bitch – of the kind you might meet on a dark night in rainy Harlesden, after one of TFL’s planned underground strikes.

Angela Holmes (Olivia Taylor Dudley), is then carted off by men in white coats much to the dismay of her man Pete (John Patrick Amedori), and her craggy, devoutly Catholic father, Roger (Dougray Scott). Slashes to her wrists and other wounds keep her  comatose and, axiomatically, fasting for 40 days and 40 nights (but crucially not in the Wild) before she awakes to wreak havoc and nearly drown a newborn baby.

Clearly possessed by demons that also affect those around her, Angela is transferred to the psychiatric unit where her telekinetic powers cause untold havoc. Meanwhile Dougary’s doing his nut, rushing around furiously and claiming to know better than everyone else how to handle his little girl and secretly wondering why he agreed to sign up to this Vatican-themed nonsense.

Everyone does their level best to be unbalanced but even Dougary can’t save the film, let alone his own flesh and blood. The dialogue descends into unspeakable depths with phrases like: “The devil possesses what is already his” and you know by then, as your hand travels uncontrollably towards the “off” button with demonic gusto, that you have been possessed by higher powers to bring this film to the end of its natural life. MT


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