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The Pope’s Exorcist Review: Sell Your Soul To Crowe and Be Devilishly Entertained

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In this ludicrous romp, demon prince Asmodeus goes toe-to-toe with none other than Russell Crowe, who plays Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican demon-wrangler with a penchant for Italian accents and swanky scooters.

The Pope’s Exorcist is essentially a buddy priest film that throws us back to 1987, with Crowe’s Father Gabriele tackling demonic possessions and banishments. The plot takes a turn when an ancient evil awakens beneath a massive ruined abbey in Spain, targeting a grieving American family. As their young son Henry, played by Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, becomes possessed, enter the sensitive Father Matthew (Daniel Zovatto), whose presence prompts the demon to demand the “right” priest.

Director Julius Avery, known for his zombified Nazis in lackluster Overlord (2018), delivers a film that finds a balance between the ridiculous and the thrilling. The action shifts from the possessed boy’s bedroom to the catacombs below, culminating in a gory showdown. While the film’s script doesn’t take itself too seriously, it does falter when attempting to ground the story in psychological reality, exploring the trauma of its characters.

Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Father Gabriele is undeniably fun, and the movie’s success largely depends on the audience’s willingness to embrace his over-the-top performance. The supporting cast, including Ralph Ineson as the voice of Asmodeus and Franco Nero as the Pope, delivers mixed results.

The film pays homage to the exorcism genre but falls short of reaching the heights of the iconic The Exorcist, which masterfully showcased Linda Blair’s performance as a possessed girl. The Pope’s Exorcist can be seen as a campy, one-time indulgence in comparison.

Despite its shortcomings, The Pope’s Exorcist manages to entertain with its offbeat humor and absurdity. It’s a film that shouldn’t work, but in the end, it just about pulls it off, proving that divine intervention can come in mysterious ways.

RATING: 3.0 out of 5.0

The Pope’s Exorcist is in theater now.

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