No Sympathy for the Devil.
It’s actually easy to tell if your house is haunted: it isn’t. Grow up!
— Jimmy Carr, comedian.
Supposedly a tale from the “real-life files” of Father Gabriel Amorth, Chief Exorcist of the Vatican (from 1986-2000), THE POPE’S EXORCIST follows Amorth in a 1987 case as he exorcises a young boy possessed by Mick Jagger (a known purveyor of “devil’s music”).
Amorth is played by Russell Crowe, bringing his mischievous twinkle and jocular personality; he’s the only watchable thing in this movie devoid of original ideas. (Look at the laundry list of writers! All adding their two cents of plagiarisms from other exorcist movies.) Peter DeSouza-Feighoney is little Henry, whose mother brought him and his sister to Spain, to renovate a rambling cathedral, only for a demon to possess Henry, make him look like the lead singer of The Stones, and then speak in a British accent to seal the deal (voice of Ralph Ineson, whom we all know was possessed by the devil all the way back in THE WITCH, 2015).
The demon requests Amorth’s presence, because it was exorcised by him years before. (Oh, so demons hold grudges just like humans, eh? I guess they attained that trait from the unimaginative humans who created them. Also, if Amorth successfully exorcised him before, why does the demon think he can win against Amorth now? What new incantations is the demon bringing to the battle? Has he been working out with Anatoly? This request itself makes zero sense.) No one knows how the boy can speak other languages or levitate or cause mighty winds. All they know is, he’s got the moves like Jagger.
Daniel Zovatto is young Father Equibel (because it’s imperative we copy THE EXORCIST and have a younger priest lacking in faith accompany the older one) – only here so that Amorth doesn’t have to exposit to himself about demons and wizards and dat ole debbil magick.
Amorth must apparently guess the demon’s name to rob its power. (“Pleased to meet you / Hope you’ve guessed my name…”) So after Amorth deduces the demon’s name – Asmodeus – why does the demon’s power increase? (Telekinesis, throwing people, fires, apparitions, earthquakes, etc.) Rules. Who needs ‘em? Certainly not the Catholic Church, who rage through breaking all Ten Commandments, Mortal Sins and Cardinal Sins whenever it suits them.
Digging deeper – literally, following passageways under the old cathedral – Amorth uncovers a Vatican conspiracy. And an excuse to rape boys. Ancient texts tell the tale of Asmodeus “possessing” the Grand Inquisitor (aka Torquemada) during the Inquisition of the 1400’s, therefore “everything that happens after this is the work of the devil – centuries of persecution and torture… done in the name of God – by the devil.” Amorth muses to his exposition partner, “The Vatican covered it up!” – but why WOULD they? It’s the perfect excuse for their atrocities in the name of religion. (So even if the Vatican did a cover-up in the movie story, the movie itself is acting as apologist for the Vatican by revealing this supposed cover-up. Either way, the pedophiles get their excuse heard by the world.)
If the real-life Amorth cooked up this rationalization, it’s easy to see why: it exculpates the Catholic Church in a propaganda blitz that blames the devil for any iniquity perpetrated by psychopath priests drunk on power. And it gives them the perfect excuse to continue fucking boys.
I can see Catholics entwining themselves around this excuse like drunken lovers. Never mind the fact that it only proves the weakness of the supposed servants of God who are so easily manipulated by possession; also proving the untrustworthiness of all those unpossessed priests that allowed the possessed ones to continue their atrocities without lifting a finger against them; also proving that God himself is so weak that he could not stop Asmodeus possessing his spiritually spineless avatars on earth.
OG Franco Nero (JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2) is the Pope. Bad actress Alexandra Essoe is Henry’s mum, reminding us of Frances O’Connor “indicating” in TIMELINE – overacting her emotions. Henry’s older sister is Laurel Marsden, who does the climbing spider move from THE EXORCIST, because – zero original ideas. Her introductory scene sees her mother warning her to “stop dressing that way,” which might have been a telegraph of some rape to come – from either the cathedral workmen or the devil – but there is no follow-through on any subplot involving her budding sexuality. We have to deduce it was just a way for director Julius Avery (SAMARITAN) to get a loving shot of Marsden’s sensual smooth legs – or maybe he was possessed?! Yeh, that’s it!
Many explosions, growlings, skeletons and orchestra stabs later, Amorth succeeds in – I dunno, “convincing” Asmodeus to exit the boy, or do another solo record, or something… Who knows? It’s all magic who cares fuck you. Demons from another dimension speaking English; demon threatening Young Priest he’s going to drag him to hell – then throws him; Amorth getting possessed – Young Priest giving it the old “Power of Christ compels you” to exorcise Amorth…
Relying on the superstitions and ignorance of the gullible Catholic “faith,” Amorth ate out on his so-called abilities his whole life. The credulity of the “religious” populace that would let this fearmonger grift them for decades is more astounding than the lack of creative thought that goes into possession movies. I mean, this guy didn’t live in the 1400s – he lived NOW, in the so-called Technological Age (1925-2016). His snake-oil musta been some sell!
Because NONE OF THIS HAPPENED. You know that, right?
No matter that Amorth feverishly “documented” these tales in his books (movie is based on Amorth’s An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories) – he NEVER confronted a demon sitting on a stone throne in a subterranean lair, and the Young Priest NEVER battled his illicit lover while she was covered in blood – if you believe ANY of this idiotic fiction, it further promotes the medieval trait of attributing monstrous behavior to the devil, instead of taking the responsibility for purely human deviancy. For example, people who engaged in cannibalism or desecrating corpses sexually, were thought to be “possessed” – now we know they are simply psychopaths.
In October 2000, it was reported [Amorth] had performed over 50,000 exorcisms… In March 2010, he said the number had increased to 70,000. By May 2013, he said he had performed 160,000 exorcisms in the course of his ministry.
— Wikipedia, citing Ron Dicker, Huffpost (May 31, 2013)
Firstly, if Amorth was employed by the Vatican as an “exorcist” it means he was employed to do NOTHING. He conned whole generations into thinking he was doing “God’s work” when he was doing no work at all. And the audacity to claim the honorific “The POPE’S Exorcist” – as if that lends him any more street cred than any regular “exorcists” conning terrified people into believing mental problems are supernatural.
160,000 exorcisms?! If Amorth started exorcising in 1986, and reported 160,000 by 2013 – do the math: there are 9,855 days in those 27 years. On average, that means 16 exorcisms PER DAY. (“… said he performed up to 20 exorcisms a day at his peak but has cut back to four a day.” – Ron Dicker, ibid.) I mean – what was this con-artist actually DOING? Exorcising every little twitch and Tourette’s Syndrome and atheist that crossed his path? To paraphrase Harry Callahan, “Pretty soon you exorcise your neighbor’s dog for pissing on your lawn.” Of course, Amorth never actually “exorcised” ONE SINGLE SOLITARY THING; not one person, demon, or sociopath…
And all the while, right under his nose, those truly evil incarnate entities who really needed exorcising, somehow Amorth never got around to them – rapist priests.