This past Wednesday we held another community movie evening (sponsored by the ever awesome TimesMediaFilms) in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Not only did people drown in soda and popcorn but they were also treated to some real-life ghouls in the actual cinema (thanks to the ladies, all covered in makeup, who were on hand to scare the audience!). This time the movie was The Vatican Tapes, a half ‘found-footage movie’, half standard non-shaky cam affair. What was it about? Here’s a quick plot summary:
The fate of the world hangs in the balance when a cleric (Peter Andersson) battles an ancient satanic force for a young woman’s (Olivia Taylor Dudley) soul.
To be honest that plot, taken from their page, doesn’t really say much about the movie, at least not the one I saw. Let me put my 2 cents worth in before we head to the community and see what they had to say.
The Vatican Tapes is a horror about the coming of the Anti-Christ, a story that should easily offer enough of a platform to scare the heck out of you. Unfortunately it only offers 90 minutes of mind-numbing, sloppy directing and confused motives.
The movie takes place in just a few locations – home, hospital (the broken bones type), hospital (broken mind type) and home again for supper. Just sign here… This kind of movie can work really well if tightly directed and controlled, but sadly it isn’t and stands in stark contrast to what we usually get from director Mark Neveldine (known for his collaboration with Brian Taylor on Crank).
Unlike the Exorcist, which is able to build suspense through confusion, The Vatican Tapes telegraphs its reveals from so far away it was difficult to show more than a casual interest in it. I am sure that some would love the heavy, and at times over-the-top, references to the Catholic Church, and an almost Da Vinci Code-like play on things but even those elements feel forced.
With poor pacing, redundant scenes and a camera that didn’t know if it should stay shaky, hang from a ceiling or sit staring up at you from the floor like a naughty child, it failed to create any form of tension. It also irked my that every woman in the movie came across as being somehow broken or ‘bad’. In contrast the priest war-veteran (played by Michael Peña as convincingly as the script would allow), the worried father who is also a soldier and the… hippy boyfriend (what?) are all rather too righteous. If you are looking for a horror to watch with your partner while you get up to stir the food this may be one for you. 1.5/5. Nick Reay
Enough from me – what the heck do I know anyway?! One of the fun things about the evening were of course the scary girls! Here are a few pictures of them, and of you!
So what did you think of the movie? Let’s see…
I quite enjoyed the movie. Wasn’t anything mind blowing, but there was a lot of foreshadowing that turned out to be misdirection, and I particularly love an unorthodox ending. The lead actress also played her role very well, helping put this movie in a “Glad to have watched” bracket – despite the scares being limited to a few jump scares (which may or may not have worked. Shut up, don’t judge me). 3/5 – Allan Levitt
To start off with, the movie felt like it was forcing religious views, like the whole “living in sin” line when she mentioned that they are living together while not married and various other lines. The script and directing was awful which led to really bad acting in most of the movie, and the story had so many plot holes that it felt like I was driving in Johannesburg. I hoped that the movie would be one of those that gets underneath your skin, but it bored me to the point where I actually considered walking out of the cinema. 0/5. – Werner Botha
Thanks for a great movie. Right from the start, this movie grabbed my attention. I believe this movie is a true reflection of what could be happening in the world today or what is to come. The devils language made me think of the funny language people are talking in churches. The girl at the end makes me think of Benny Hynn and others of his type. I don’t know whether I was relieved or disappointed, but the movie was not as scary as I expected. 3/5 – Michelle Laubscher
A gorgeous example of a multiple gaze horror, The Vatican Tapes is written to play with the audience. The film is a stunning cinematic experience, and riddled with false foreshadowing that’ll even have thriller veterans doubting the plot direction. Enjoyable with the right tension to jump-scare ratio. 4/5 – Bronté Miles
I enjoyed it. I wasn’t scared at any point, although the guy sitting behind me screamed a few times lol and was quite involved in the movie. There were definitely frustrating moments. Just take your enormous demon kit upstairs with you guy! What i liked is the whole antichrist instead of just demon play. I mean sometimes i enjoy seeing the bad guy have the upper hand. I would have just added another 20 minutes and wrapped it up with Gladiator priest in a big showdown instead of ending the way that it does. 3/5 – Alwynne Baatjies
The movie was very good, I enjoyed a horror after a very long time. I would give it 4/5. The story line seemed to dwindle towards the end for me. It could have had more in the beginning to tie up with the end. The acting was good, and I quite enjoyed the zombie girls walking throughout the theatre when we got in, they were brilliant :-). I hope there’s a sequel. 4/5 – Andrea Aroomoogam
Thank you for the opportunity to watch the movie Nic. Would not have done it out of my own – #scaredbumms. We enjoyed the eve… however for me, the movie ended with an anti-climax ( I guess leaving room for the sequel). Overall experience 4/5 – Astrid Julies
Good story line. Wish it had more punch though – just when it started getting interesting, it ended! 3/5 – Melissa Ferhelst
So some rather nice reviews there, perhaps I am just old and cynical, or perhaps I wasn’t thrown into the mood by the roaming ghouls that met you all as you were seating yourselves! Thanks so much to everyone who showed up and for your continued support of evenings like this. Even if the movie is not right up your street it’s more about getting everyone together to have a load of fun. And to the dude at the back (not sure if you are the same one from Jessebelle) you keep on rocking 😉
We’ll keep you posted on up-coming screenings! Have a fantastic weekend!
Last Updated: January 4, 2017