'The Vatican Exorcisms'
(Joe Marino, Piero Maggio, et al / DVD / R / 2015 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Overview: Hoping to expose a shocking scandal inside the Vatican, a documentary filmmaker travels to Rome to interview several key witnesses but finds himself unearthing something far more sinister.
DVD Verdict: Accompanied by Padre Luigi, a true exorcist, Joe Marino travels to the south of Italy, a place where the sacred and profane have always lived together, where Christian rituals are inextricably linked to the pagan ones.
First, a brief note on exorcism films: whether or not there were films about exorcism prior to 'The Exorcist,' that film set a benchmark that all others must now contend with. There are two ways to approach this: try to make a better film, or try to make a different film. The first approach almost always fails. The second one fails as well, though slightly less often. Wisely, this film took that second route.
And there is some good stuff in here: filming in Italy was a good idea, and using the stolen papers of Pope Benedict as a reference was also clever. Even though few people are going to believe this is a real documentary, they set up a solid foundation to work from. Inject enough fact into your fiction, and people are going to be intrigued.
There is, however, also bad stuff: mostly the faux documentary style. Again, if it could be passed off as real, that might be interesting. But it never reaches that level. And then it ends up in the same place as many other exorcism films from the past five years, several of which have used POV or a documentary style. And few do it well. The only good one in recent memory is 'Grace: The Possession' (2014), though even 'The Last Exorcism' (2010) had its merits.
This is not going to go down as a great film or even one of the better exorcism films. While it has good intentions and the creators had good ideas, the execution falls fall short of the mark. [GT] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of: