Is The Pope’s Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?

The Pope’s Exorcist is a supernatural horror film released on April 14, 2023. It is based on the memoirs of Father Gabriele Amorth, the Chief Exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, who claims to have performed over 160,000 exorcisms during his ministry. However, The Pope’s Exorcist has taken many creative liberties in its making to provide entertainment to the audience.

The film is directed by Julius Avery and stars Russell Crowe as the protagonist Father Amorth, who goes to Spain to try to save a 10-year-old boy, Henry, from possession. In the process, he uncovers a Vatican conspiracy with world-ending consequences. But is it worth the watch? Is it successful in being entertaining? And most importantly, is it capable of holding up the name of the horror genre?

The Pope’s Exorcist merely borrows from the life of Father Amorth and is a fantastical movie. It gives us an action hero-like priest, and the film seems derived from several other films. Overall, the film fails to provide exciting new content or true horror.

1. Father Amorth is a Demon-Hunting Superhero

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
Father Amorth, during one of his exorcisms

In The Pope’s Exorcist, Father Amorth is portrayed as a demon-hunting superhero who uses guns, goes on high-speed chases, and breaks down doors like an action movie superhero. In reality, he is a priest who often uses unconventional methods for exorcisms, but never the likes seen in the movie.   

In the movie, Father Amorth appears to be a cool hero, like John Wick, and a demon hunter who also happens to be a priest. With his Lambretta and guns, he provides us with an action-styled performance with a horror theme. However, the real Father Amorth was never a gun-slinging superhero.

At the movie’s start, Crowe’s Father Amorth is seen exorcising a demon into a pig from a man in Italy. The pig is then dramatically killed using a shotgun. And it is the bloodiest scene of the movie.

2. The Pope’s Exorcist Has Seen Before Story Instances

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
Father Amorth and Father Esquibel in the movie

The Pope’s Exorcist, in several instances, gives the audience déjà vu, except they are aware that these scenes and storylines have been witnessed in other movies of the horror and religious genre. It mostly has a very predictable plot and fails to provide innovative content.

In the movie’s crux, Father Amorth is trying to get rid of the demon Asmodeus from the body of a ten-year-old boy named Henry. And how does the demon inhabit Henry in the first place?

In a seen-before (several times) storyline, Julia is a widow and mother who has just shifted her family (Amy, her daughter, and Henry) to a vast, deserted castle in Spain left to her by her late husband. And no points for guessing; the demon inhabits the castle. The second they enter their new home, Asmodeus creates fear and chaos as he possesses Henry.

Not even half an hour later, it is clear to all that they desperately need help. Father Esquibel, the local priest, tries in vain to fulfill that need as, no, the demon is not satisfied with a priest of low status. Father Amorth is a must and then enters the protagonist in all his style and importance.

To name the movies that this movie seems to be a collection of, it is not only The Exorcist, but also Stranger Things (possessed children and setting), Drag Me to Hell (religiousness), and Death on the Nile (for Father Amorth’s backstory).

3. Misogynistic Elements Spoil The Movie

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
A scene from The Pope’s Exorcist

The Pope’s Exorcist has several misogynistic elements, and the movie reduces its female characters to having only two sides: sexual and maternal. This primarily gives it the rating R and feels unwanted in the film.

In the movie, Henry, possessed by the demon, gropes his mother, castigating her for not breastfeeding him. Females in the story scream expletives when possessed by the demon, and nudeness in the movie seems unnecessary. Amy, a young teenager, is not free of this misogynism in the film either.

4. The Movie is Not Fit for 2023

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
Father Amorth and Father Esquibel in another scene from the movie

The Pope’s Exorcist feels like a movie from the past era, with little message or depth to what is shown. It does not feel relevant in today’s age of feminism, equality, and meaning.

The movie has imagery meant to be frightening and horrors intended to attract people, but without a reason or depth to these scenes, they fail to hold our attention. Much feels unneeded, and the misogynism in the movie is a daring (read: utterly wrong) attempt in today’s times.

The movie has religion at its basis, and it feels like it tries to create a reputation for the Catholic Church; however, it fails to make an impact in 2023.

5. Crowe is nowhere near his best in The Pope’s Exorcist

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
Russell Crowe as Father Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist

The cast of The Pope’s Exorcist has not showcased their best performances. Even Crowe does not give us a glimpse of Oscar-awarded acting talent. The characters in the movie have little depth, and the humor they strive for falls far.

Father Amorth, in the movie, despite the war background he has been given, fails to create a connection with the audience. This is so not the movie for you if you wish to see Crowe as the great actor he is. The humor the characters give in the film is also unrelated to the situation, leaving us confused while we are laughing.

6. And Last, The Horror is Not It in The Pope’s Exorcist

Is The Pope's Exorcist Worth The Watch? Is it Really Horror?
Henry, who is possessed by Asmodeus in the movie

The Pope’s Exorcist tries to be horror, but primarily generic imagery and ineffective visuals dot the film. What Director Avery portrays on screen is what one would already have in mind (and have already seen) when the genre comes up.

Skeletons, possessed kids, and demonic-inspired sketches are horror in the film. Everything usually associated with the religious-horror genre is precisely what we see on-screen, leaving us for a predictable ride.

To say that the CGI and makeup in the movie have been done ten years ago, that too, in a better way is not an overstatement at all. The film also fails to make a mark in the horror category, as with the movie R-rated, the older audience has already seen and gotten bored of all this. We’re left with a sense of deja-vu and a game of ‘which other movie did we already see this in?’ to compensate for the money spent.

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7. About The Pope’s Exorcist

The Pope’s Exorcist is a 2023 American supernatural horror film directed by Julius Avery, and starring Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth. It is based on Amorth’s memoirs An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories.

In the film, Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist for the Vatican, battles Satan and innocent-possessing demons. It is a detailed portrait of a priest who performed more than 100,000 exorcisms in his lifetime.

The film also stars Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, and Franco Nero. It was released in the United States and Canada on April 14, 2023.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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