“The Vatican Tapes” isn’t the latest attempt at milking the dreaded found-footage fad, and for that reason alone critics around the country who suffer from vérité fatigue can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Nevertheless, it remains the latest attempt at milking the possession fad. The film from director Mark Neveldine is so over the top that one can’t help but imagine how the Wayans brothers might lampoon it, then embarrassingly recall them doing exactly so in “A Haunted House.”
The Vatican dispatches Cardinal Mattias Bruun (Peter Andersson) to America to perform an exorcism after learning of the satanic possession of Angela Holmes (Olivia Taylor Dudley), a twentysomething blogger who’s apparently an expert on the difference between Satan and the Antichrist. Since Angela accidentally cut herself at her birthday party, she’s been able to summon ravens, speak in tongues, cough up eggs and compel a police detective to gouge his eyes with two light bulbs.
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Writers Christopher Borrelli and Michael C. Martin commit quite a handful of sins of contrivance that are difficult to absolve. While their conclusion isn’t original by any stretch of the imagination for a film of this ilk, they do put their own twist on the Book of Revelation that’s actually somewhat intriguing and elevates the end on an allegorical note.
“The Vatican Tapes.”
MPAA rating: PG-13 for disturbing violent content, and some sexual references.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: In general release.