Movie Review: The Pope’s Exorcist (Avery, 2023)

The Pope's Exorcist
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Movie: The Pope’s Exorcist

Production Companies: Screen Gems, 2.0 Entertainment, Loyola Productions

Director: Julius Avery

Producers: Doug Belgrad, Michael Patrick Kaczmarek, Jeff Katz

Scriptwriters: Michael Petroni, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Main Cast: Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero

Release Date: April 5th 2023

Running Time: 103 minutes

Certificate: 15


Forgive this film Father for it has sinned.. Sinned by not including more of Russell Crowe riding a moped. That cardinal sin aside, The Pope’s Exorcist is a pretty solid C-List horror film. And eventually it will make its home in the treasure trove of weird horror that is Amazon Prime. So if you like Russell Crowe doing a pretty decent Italian accent and exorcisms this is definitely for you. Oh, obligatory mild SPOILER warning in place. Anyway, let’s get into my review of the film now.


The Pope’s Exorcist follows the head exorcist of the Vatican, Father Gabriele Amorth (Crowe), as he is sent by the Pope to Spain. This is in order to help a mother whose son, Henry, has been possessed by the king of hell: Asmodeus. Once in Spain, Amorth must not only grapple with his demons and past but also with the consequences of what could happen if the Pope’s Exorcist was possessed. Along with this, the Devil is constantly taunting him with his greatest shame and mocking his faith. Though this is fairly standard for holy horror films. Anyway, alongside Amorth on his mission are Spanish Priest Father Esquibel (Zovatto), Henry’s mother Julia (Essoe) and her daughter, Amy. So, with the synopsis out of the way let’s get into the analysis portion of my review now. 


Russell Crowe’s Performance in the Pope’s Exorcist

To begin my analysis of the Pope’s Exorcist, I’m going to discuss the elephant in the room: Russell Crowe’s performance as Father Gabriele Amorth and his tiny moped. Despite the film being perfectly fine, Crowe’s sheer screen presence and dedication to the role do carry the film a lot of the time. Take the second exorcism attempt on Henry. Here, despite it mostly being a lot of sound and fury, Crowe manages to keep the film on track as his mostly convincing Italian accent is heard amidst the constant screams. Also, more evidence of Crowe’s good performance is in the finale which accurately demonstrates the insanity of the books, which I hear are really good.

Anyway, despite the finale being something straight out of every possession horror film. Basically, the main character gets taken over by an evil deity only to be brought back by the supporting character/priest. Yes, while it’s generic Crowe’s sheer charisma carries the scene which kind of sums the entire film up. Oh, this quote sums up Crowe’s performance: even if he’s in something subpar his screen presence is undeniable. But seriously, I hear the books are good….

CGI in the Pope’s Exorcist

Continuing my review of the Pope’s Exorcist, I’m going to discuss the film’s CGI. Now, granted the film only had a $18 million budget so I can give it some less grief. However, there are some instances of the CGI or special effects being slightly ropey. A good example of this is the finale when Asmodeus possesses Amorth. Here, the effects/makeup used around Amorth’s eyes looks less demonic possession and more like Kaecilius’s dry cracked eyes from the first Doctor Strange film. Again, another example of the film’s questionable CGI/special effects is the voice of Henry’s possessor. Not that Ralph Ineson does a bad job but it just sounds like every single demon ever which is fine but just makes me wonder if all demons really want is a half decent lozenge.

Like we could all see Henry was possessed yet they bring out the same demonic voice which was probably being used back in the original Exorcist? Just feels a bit meh… Also, to once again dig at the finale some of the fire effects look a bit rubbish hence making the finale slightly funny than it could be. So, while these aren’t the end of the world, there’s definitely been better special effects and CGI….

The Screenplay of the Pope’s Exorcist 

To conclude my analysis of the Pope’s Exorcist, I’m going to discuss the film’s screenplay. Again, while I did enjoy the film there were certain parts of the screenplay which felt ropey. Case in point, the scene where the Pope finally understands how much danger Amorth is in. Surely as Amorth’s boss, he’d be in on the same details as Amorth. So other than drama why doesn’t he know about what could lie in wait for him in Spain? Also, again I’m being nitpicky, and it’s incredibly likely it was Asmodeus’s plan all along, but why wait until the family have already moved in to then suddenly start going mad and blowing builders up? Again, if I’m sounding quite nitpicky it’s because I am being but it’s these little details which did nag me during the film.

However, the screenplay wasn’t all full of nitpicks for me as the constant little jokes between Amorth and Esquibel did add a lot of humour. Notably, they are mostly before an exorcism scene. So it was funny seeing Crowe quip about football before screaming incantations at a possessed child. So, overall it was a decent screenplay with a few annoying nitpicky moments but also some fun humour which helped keep the film moving at times.


To summarise the Pope’s Exorcist, this is a solid and entertaining C-list horror film with a fun Russell Crowe performance helping to carry it over the line. Or, drive it over the line on a very small Ferrari moped…. Anyway, get ready for the Pope’s Exorcist 2: 2 Exorcists 2 Furious in a few years time and honestly you should really read the books because I hear they’re really good…

Overall Rating: 6/10 – Reasonable

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Moderate Violence and Gore, Severe Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Severe Frightening and Intense Scenes 

Recommendation: Yes