Who's In It: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Rutger Hauer, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones
The Basics: "Inspired by true events" alleges the marketing campaign for this movie. And once you've seen it you'll realize what they mean is that the filmmakers once sat down and truly watched The Exorcist. Then they rewrote it and watered it down for 12-year-olds. Here goes: Older unorthodox priest brought in to drive a demon from a young girl in Rome? Check. Troubled young priest in a hoodie who's lost his faith? Check. That young priest regularly saying stuff like , "Hey, did anyone take her to a psychiatrist first?" Check. An exorcisee who contorts her body, speaks in a raspy voice and shouts PG-13ish sex-taunts to the collared men of God? Check. Unbeliever delivered from agnosticism? Check.
What's The Deal: I'm here to establish new guidelines for the making of movies about exorcisms. I know my guidelines will be largely ignored because I'm nobody but I'm going to lay it down here anyway. The first rule is that the Lord of All Blackness and Evil deserves an "R" rated film. He's Satan, after all, and fluffy kitties pouncing from out of dark spaces (it happens in this movie) are an insult to the kind of fear we've been led to expect from him. The guy wants to destroy your soul, not turn your cat litter box into a hellmouth. The second rule is that Oscar winners slumming for a paycheck and a Roman holiday are banned from acting in these sorts of movies. It's both embarrassing and extremely funny, like watching Joan Crawford make square, stiff-necked horror films in the late 1960s. Third rule? Be scarier than any given monster on an episode of Charmed; as it stands, the contents of my iPod are more demonic than anything you'll see here.
Almost Worth Watching For: Creepy mortician Rutger Hauer teaching his son (the one who's going to grow up to become the young nearly-atheist priest) to paint his own dead mother's fingernails so she can look pretty in the casket, a cameo by a red-eyed devil-donkey and Hopkins shaking what turns out to be one of many plague-like frogs at the camera while shouting, "DIABLO!" In fact, all of Hopkins's performance is Razzee Award worthy. He doesn't simply chew scenery--he swallows it, digests it, passes it, turns it into fertilizer and grows a crop of psychedelic mushrooms.
Watch This Instead: 2008's low-budget 80s Satanic panic valentine House of The Devil.