It’s starting to feel like perhaps Russell Crowe wants to give Nicolas Cage a run for his money in the field of ridiculous, high-concept genre movies. He’s still got quite a ways to go if this is the case, but the following trailer for The Pope’s Exorcist is certainly a good place to start on such a quest. Ostensibly a supernatural horror movie in the vein of The Conjuring or The Exorcist (obviously), the delivery here is so campy and hammy that it almost begins to venture into the land of abject parody. Because honestly, who was going to take Crowe seriously as the “chief exorcist of the Vatican” in the first place? Nevertheless, he’s here to wield both the power of God, and an indefinable European accent.
The film, directed by Julius Avery (of 2018 Nazi-zombie movie Overlord), is “inspired by” the real-life accounts of priest Gabriele Amorth, who passed away in 2016 and styled himself as the leading exorcist in Vatican City. Amorth is a figure of some controversy in the Catholic church, claiming to have performed literally hundreds of thousands of exorcisms in his lifetime, although without much in the way of records to back them up. Likewise, it seems that even saying a simple prayer could qualify as an “exorcism” in many cases, while Amorth himself did note that few of the people receiving his services were suffering from what the church would term full-on demonic possession. This created a public perception of Amorth as something of a huckster, but also made him a subject of much debate, as captured in William Friedkin’s 2017 documentary The Devil and Father Amorth.
Regardless, The Pope’s Exorcist clearly takes that real-life persona and turns him into a church-sanctioned superhero, ready to battle it out with demons and throw punches in the way that only Russell Crowe can. The trailer makes him out to be a rebel in the mode of an ‘80s cop movie, with a council of priests complaining about his loose cannon ways, only for Crowe to refer them to “talk to my boss … the Pope.” It’s a wonderfully absurd moment that hints at a seriously cheesy spin on Catholic dogma.
The Pope’s Exorcist has an April 14, 2023 release date, “exclusively in theaters” as the trailer reminds us. You can check out that trailer below.