While we are still very early into the year, the 2023 horror movies we have seen have certainly made it a good one for the genre so far, especially with how unique and ambitious many of them have proved to be. However, every once in a while, horror lovers do enjoy a stripped-down, straightforward, old-fashioned throwback to the classics that made them fans in the first place. For those who love possession movies like THE EXORCIST, and are always on the lookout for horror titles featured in AMC’s Thrills & Chills series, coming soon is THE POPE’S EXORCIST.
Helmed by OVERLORD director Julius Avery, this movie – which is coming to AMC Theatres on Friday, April 14th – has everything you could want from a thriller about exorcism – from flickering lights to spinning heads to members of the clergy rediscovering the power of their own faith for the sake of saving an innocent child who needs them the most. Of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what there is to expect from THE POPE’S EXORCIST. Without giving too much away, let’s go deep into what makes the flick an old school possession thriller – starting with the facts behind the fiction.
Inspired By A Real Exorcist
Something that most possession movies have in common – excluding the EVIL DEAD movies, perhaps – is the claim that they are inspired by allegedly true events. The same does, indeed, go for THE POPE’S EXORCIST. Yet, what makes this film a special case is how it takes inspiration from more than just some strange “events,” but one notable figure who experienced them.
The film – which was written by Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos – is based on the books “An Exorcist Tells His Story” and “An Exorcist: More Stories,” which are memoirs by Father Gabriele Amorth. The Italian born priest was the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome and whose experiences expelling demons served as the subject for THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH – a documentary by THE EXORCIST director William Friedkin, which was released in 2017. The protagonist of THE POPE’S EXORCIST is based on Father Amorth.
A Disturbing Possession Tale
As the title suggests, the Pope – or, at least, a fictional version of the leader of the Catholic Church – also plays a role in THE POPE’S EXORCIST. It is he who sends Father Amorth on a very troubling assignment in the mid-1980s.
The exorcist travels to Spain to look into the case of a young, American boy whose mother and older sister are frightened by his strange and violent behavior, which Amorth is convinced must be the work of a demon that knows more about him than he expected. With the help of a younger local priest, he works tirelessly to save the boy and, in the process, uncovers a disturbing conspiracy that has been kept hidden from the Vatican for centuries.
Russell Crowe’s Horror Debut
One of the most exciting reasons to see THE POPE’S EXORCIST is to witness Academy AwardⓇ winner Russell Crowe leading his very first horror movie. To play Father Amorth, the Australian actor speaks with an Italian accent and invokes a charming sense of humor that acts as a refreshing dose of levity amid the hair-raising thrills.
Supporting Crowe in THE POPE’S EXORCIST cast is Daniel Zovatto of IT FOLLOWS fame as his assistant, Father Esquibel, and DOCTOR SLEEP star Alex Essoe as Julia – the mother of the possessed Henry, who is played by Peter DeSouza-Feighoney in his acting debut. As Julia’s daughter, Amy, we have Laurel Marsden, who is best known for Disney+’s “Ms. Marvel” and starring as the Pope is Franco Nero, whose performance as the Western genre’s original “Django” made him a legend.
It has been some time since we have seen a traditional demonic possession thriller in the style of 1973’s THE EXORCIST or THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE from 2005. If you are a horror fan who has been craving the subgenre’s return, be sure to check out THE POPE’S EXORCIST when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!