After an strange sickness and a weird accident that putted her in a coma, Angela awakens with a personality very different from the one her relatives remember, and shortly, several bizarre incidents begin to occur around her, even though she claims to have neither memory or control over them. When even being admitted to a mental hospital seems to no help at all, but instead makes matters worse, a pair of Vatican priests start to follow Angela’s case carefully, holding the idea that this might not be a common case of demonic possession, but that Angela might be a key piece for the end of mankind itself.
Ok, I know that synopsis was too generic, but this film is stronger and more original than that, I’m just trying to hold the spoilers, Let me explain it a little bit:
The problem with recent movies on the “possession” sub genre is that most of them are too similar, and often follow a formula by the numbers. A person starts to act strangely, some weird things happen around she/he, tons of medical test are made on her/him, where not a single one of them shows something wrong, suddenly someone suggest that is a case of possession, the family of the victim does not believe in this answer, but after more inexplicable events (Specially if someone gets hurt) the relatives accept the possibility and a exorcism ritual takes place. The End (or “To be continued” if the producers are ambitious and hope for a sequel).
To make matters worse, following the current trend, a lot of recent films go for the route of the pseudo-documentary or «found footage» ( what I call “Drunken Camera”) which instead of adding tension to the film, it keeps me aware that I’m watching a film, or more precisely, a film of a film, so it’s harder for me to actually get fully in to the story.
Now, what separates “The Vatican Tapes” to most recent similar films, is that here we don’t see over extended sequences that in the end NOTHING happens, this film has (as far as I can remember) no cheap jump scares. The film has, however a fast, steady pace, with several scenes with nasty consequences that clearly shows to the characters that the problem with Angela is not a simple mental condition. The movie also has an interesting back story, with an ending that leave us with the uneasy notion that this is not a simple average exorcism, but the beginning of an event that will affect the rest of the world, not only Angel’s family and the people around them.
The best of all? This film was made in the traditional style, contrary to what you might think from the trailer, is not a found footage movie. (Yes, is a plus in my book)
The inevitable exorcism sequence is good, but sort of falls short to the expectation that we might have due the film’s build up, and sadly, mostly was shown on the trailer, although the ending of the film redeems it’s shortcomings. We could argue that there is an interesting social commentary on the film’s last five minutes, and I’m sure that some hardcore feminist might get angry for it, but I liked it a lot, sadly, both the film and the trailer try to hint that this is the base for a sequel, which most probably won’t happen, and honestly, I don’t think is needed, in my opinion the film works fine by itself and the ending is way more unsettling knowing that there won’t be another story beyond that point.
The film was directed by Mark Neveldine (Director of both “Crank”movies, the sequel to “Ghost Rider” and “Gamer”) I’m not a fan of his previous films, but I think he brought an interesting, and actually good movie. On the cast we have Michael Peña, Kathleen Robertson, y Djimon Hounsou.
I do recommend this film, check it out if you have the chance, it has good acting, nice special effects, and a good pacing. There are some people that think that Djimon Hounsou was underused on this film, and I supposed that is due the chance of the hope for a sequel. This might not be one of the best films of 2015, but I think is a great alternative to the average possession films (That are not by any stretch my favorites) and the overused “Found Footage” style.