“The Pope’s Exorcist” Movie Disappoints

Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Publicity)

The International Association of Exorcists (IAE) has released a statement criticizing the soon-to-be released Russel Crowe movie entitled, The Pope’s Exorcist, for what appears to be an inaccurate depiction of the Church, the priestly Father Gabriele Amorth, and exorcism in general.

According to imdb.com, the movie, which stars Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth and Italian actor Franco Nero as the Pope, follows the work of Father Amorth as he investigates a young boy’s possession. In the process, he uncovers a centuries-old conspiracy the Vatican has tried to keep hidden.

The IAE cites numerous problems with the movie, beginning with the title, “The Pope’s Exorcist,” which it claims is not only inaccurate but pretentious. Father Amorth, who died at age 91 in 2016, was the exorcist for the Diocese of Rome.

“To watch the film’s trailer confirms, in case any proof were needed, not only its splatter-cinema quality, authentic horror film subgenre, but its little reliability on such a delicate and relevant topic,” the IAE statement reads.

The film doesn’t only get Father Amorth’s title wrong, but Crowe’s representation of the famous exorcist is also lacking. The film seems more interested in building an association between the exorcist and the gladiator that Crowe played so famously twenty years ago, a performance that won him an Oscar. By doing so, the spirit of service that moved Father Amorth in his ministry is absent from the film.

“Then the Catholic Church is represented by an equally incredible Pope,” the statement continues. “Finally, the Vatican environments, painted with the habitual and proven gamut of chiaroscuros [dramatic effects], confer on the film a Da Vinci Code effect, to infuse in the spectator the usual doubt: Who is the real enemy? The devil or ecclesiastical ‘power’?”

The special effects were also disappointing, produced with the usual exaggeration typical in horror films about exorcism.

“…[S]uch a way of recounting Father Amorth’s experience of exorcism, in addition to being contrary to the historical reality, distorts and falsifies what is really lived and experienced during the exorcism of the truly possessed, which Catholic exorcists carry out in keeping with the guidelines given by the Church. Moreover, it is offensive to the state of suffering, in which those are who are victims of an extraordinary action of the devil, find themselves.”

Sadly, those who watch this movie will see exorcism presented in a way that “becomes a show destined to arouse strong and unhealthy emotions, thanks to the scary scenography, with sound effects that only awaken anxiety, uneasiness and fear in the spectator.”

Michael Lichens, editor and spokesperson at Sophia Institute Press, told the Catholic News Agency that he hopes audiences will remember Father Amorth as “a real person with a great legacy and perhaps a few moviegoers will look up an interview or pick up his books.”

The film, directed by Julius Avery, debuts April 14.

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