Main cast: Olivia Taylor Dudley (Angela Holmes), Michael Peña (Father Lozano), Dougray Scott (Roger Holmes), John Patrick Amedori (Pete), Djimon Hounsou (Vicar Imani), and Peter Andersson (Cardinal Bruun)
Director: Mark Neveldine
The only creepy thing about The Vatican Tapes is its assertion that the Roman Catholic Church has footage of all of us doing everything… everywhere. Think about it – creepy wizened white men starting at the screen to footage of you in the bathroom or changing room, all in the name of watching for the Devil’s work to show up.
This movie tries to follow the footsteps of movies like The Omen, which is all about the coming of the Antichrist. Here, the Antichrist is poor Angela, who cuts herself on her birthday cake and proceeds to start drinking entire bottles of water in one go and generally staring at the camera in a “I, too, wanna be like those long-haired dead girls in those Korean horror movies!” way. It turns out that she’s marked by the Devil, and it’s all her whore mother’s fault, of course. Her father Roger is creepily possessive of Angela, and he knocked Angela’s mother up before abandoning her, and when she dumped Angela – she was a down on her luck prostitute, remember? – Roger took Angela in. In other words, the prostitute he knocked up in an effort to “save” her (eye roll) – whatever. The daughter – worth keeping. And this whore mother aspect of Olivia is one of the reasons that marked her as the Antichrist. Lovely.
Father Lozano generally stands around mumbling prayers and looking at the camera like he’s a lost goldfish waiting for his next paycheck. Djimon Hounsou is still looking for a role that will do him justice. Dougray Scott wears some tight shirts, but his face looks like a blown-up car accident.
The horror bits are standard Hollywood tricks – slow motion camera moving over a dark area, BOOM! – and the exorcism scene is unintentionally funny because of some hammy acting from everyone involved. And it’s sad at the end of the day that the Church, for all its so-called elite warriors against darkness in standby to do God’s work, is actually quite impotent, just standing there and apparently gaping helplessly after sending just one guy to take down the Antichrist.
The Vatican Tapes is bogged down by painfully slow pacing during which nothing happens for a long time, a cast that is mostly just there to get their paycheck, and a script that doesn’t seem to know it actually wants to say. It is not exciting, scary, compelling, or entertaining – it’s just a boring dud, period.