The Vatican Tapes
Chris Morgan (Based On A Story By) | Christopher Borrelli (Based On A Story By) (Screenplay) | Michael C. Martin (Screenplay By)
Michael Peña as Father Lozano
Alison Lohman as Psych Patient
Kathleen Robertson as Dr. Richards
Djimon Hounsou as Vicar Imani
Olivia Taylor Dudley as Angela
Dougray Scott as Roger Holmes
John Patrick Amedori as Pete
Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley) is an extremely likeable young woman, albeit slightly sad that she doesn’t get the amount of attention from her Army Col. Father (Dougray Scott) that she wishes she had. She’s got a great boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedori) and a pretty happy life. This all comes to a full head when her boyfriend arranges a surprise birthday party for Angela, and her expected to be absent father is there yelling surprise. The perfect day… until Angela cuts her finger pretty savagely while cutting her birthday cake. Something strange surrounds the spilling of blood by Angela, that much is clear, and although she has a fear of hospitals she ultimately agrees to go inside and get her cut taken care of.
One of the supporters of Angela seeking medical attention is Father Lozano (Michael Pena0, who runs into Angela with her father and boyfriend outside the hospital and urges her to go ahead inside. Immediately after being released with her stitched-up finger, Angela begins to change. She is more aggressive with people on the bus, and more moody. When she comes home seemingly drunk one night and says hurtful things to her boyfriend before going into a coma on the couch for a short while, back to the hospital she goes. Interestingly, immediately after she wakes from her comatose state, Angela makes a series of exclamations about how she “came back”, and in the context of her increasingly strange behavior this is significant to the movie viewers, though seemingly unimportant to the father and boyfriend on the scene.
There is a ton of rapid-fire activity from this point, some of which will be glossed over to avoid giving away too much of what’s to come for aspiring viewers of The Vatican Tapes. Suffice it to say that Angela gets in a car accident (the cause of which you will have to see for yourself), goes into a coma, and imerges as some kind of wall-talking potential baby drowning psycho weirdo who knows intimate details about parking lot blowjobs performed by her therapist. The hospital has had enough of her, and the next stop of a visit by anointed representatives of the Catholic Church from the Vatican.
The Vatican Tapes is much different from the many possession-type movies horror freaks have been treated to over recent years. This film is very well done in terms of cinematography and the activing is first rate, and it actually appears the film had some budget. There are some found-footage type instances where security cameras catch certain behaviors by Angela and others, but we thankfully do not have someone running around with a handi-cam or iPhone catching the action as it happens. This film is actually “filmed”, and very well done indeed.
We have seen a good number of exorcism films that take one tact or another to give us all the impression that an evil spirit has taken over someone to make them bend over backward or spit out Technicolor puke. We love those films for sure, but let’s face it… that’s been done. We have also seen some good anti-Christ films, the Omen series being the crown jewel of that concept which takes us through the childhood and into the teen years of the evil Damien and his plans to end the world as we know it. That’s been done too… and with the Bible as the guild we pretty much know how that’s going to go too. The “Left Behind” series of books, and a few movies starring either Kirk Cameron in 2001 (Growing Pains guy who wouldn’t film a scene about losing his virginity because it contradicted his religious beliefs) or Nick Cage in 2014, tried to put a modern spin on what the second coming might actually look like with the coming of the Anti-Christ, but again… the concept is pretty similar throughout and that has been done movie-wise too. So what if you had a film that kind of looked like a possession film, but might actually be an anti-Christ film? That’s what we get with The Vatican Tapes.
From both a possession film perspective and an anti-Christ film perspective, The Vatican Tapes is fresh and relevant. Particularly with the rise of Pope Francis and all of the global outreach he’s doing these days, more and more eyes are on the Catholic Church. Is the Church really equipped to lead all of us in the event of the coming of the anti-Christ and the subsequent second coming of Christ? We don’t get all of those answers, but it’s good to see that should this chain of events actually transpire there’s someone thinking about it.
But really, from the religious story perspective, which is definitely a horror story, what would that look like if the Devil himself came to earth to wreak havoc. What would that look like to the masses? What would that look like to those who knew this individual before prominence? How about the individual themselves? Jesus didn’t start his “Jesusly activities” until he was 30, so what happened before then? Did he know he was the son of God? Would the anti-Christ know who they were befre they they were ending the world as we know it? Questions, questions, questions…
Like so many religious stories, they have tons of horror in them if you see them played out. No matter where you sit in the religious spectrum, this story has been fodder for horror for decades and will continue to be so because, it’s horrifying. The Vatican Tapes is far from being a Sunday School lecture… it’s a horror movie definitely. But it does take a new spin on what could happen based on the scriptures. Whether you’re a believer or not, the unexpected twists make it more possible that the Devil may indeed be successful if he is tricky enough.
The Vatican Tapes is a new horrifying take on the Anti-Christ story that throws a wrench in all accepted conventions of how such a think might happen. Terrifying.