To escape his oppressive hometown, Michael (Colin O’Donoghue) decides to go to seminary despite the severe doubts he has about the church and his quasi-atheism. But when he tells his Father Superior Matthew (Toby Jones), Matthew exerts some pressure and “asks” him to attend an exorcism course before he decides for real. So Michael ends up going to Italy where he meets the eccentric Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) who performs exorcisms all the time.
I went into the film knowing that I might end up annoyed at the religiousness of it all. And I was slightly annoyed, but it wasn’t really bad. Generally speaking, there are some very effective scenes and some that didn’t work so well. In the end, the movie is only little better than average.
I have an easier time accepting a world where Catholic/Christian lore is just fact – like in Constantine for example – than a film like this one that spends about 75% of its energy trying to convince you that the devil and possessions etc etc are really real. Really. We swear. I just wanted the movie to quit trying so hard and assume that they had succeeded. Because getting preached to is boring and exhausting.
But apart from that, the movie was fine. Colin O’Donoghue is a decent actor and Anthony Hopkins does his usual thing. The supporting cast is much better, actually, but gets featured too little. I wanted more. More Ciarán Hinds! More Rutger Hauer! And much, much more Alice Braga!
Håfström manages to create some outstanding scenes. Especially the one where Michael runs through the hotel and sees the mule is a wonderfully shot, tense moment that makes this film. [Though it says probably everything that by that time, I was so invested in the film that it took me until the end of the scene to get to the conclusion that there shouldn’t be any snow in summer in Rome and that there hadn’t been any before…]
The exorcism scenes were creepy, too. That is, until [SPOILER] Anthony Hopkins was the one being possessed. [/SPOILER] There the CGI just took over and ruined the tension.
Summarising: if you’re particularly fond of exorcism movies, watch it. If not, you might as well skip it.