Dev­il­ish de­tails

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - FILM BRIGIT GRANT

W(12A) ITH SPEC­TRE on the land­scape, only the bravest of dis­trib­u­tors was pre­pared to take on the might of James Bond this week. But if the lat­est 007 is sold out, there’s The Vat­i­can Tapes.

Sig­na­ture En­ter­tain­ment, which was founded four years ago by Marc Gold­berg, has been brave enough to go up against Bond and pro­vide the hor­ror-fix for Hal­loween. Age has with­ered my love of scary movies as 21st-cen­tury hor­ror is too bloody for my taste, but Mark Nevel­dine’s The Vat­i­can Tapes is old school.

Fus­ing The Ex­or­cist (1973) and Stig­mata (1999) with the video ev­i­dence con­struct of The Blair Witch Project and Oren Peli’s Para­nor­mal Ac­tiv­ity, this is hor­ror for au­di­ences who can’t stom­ach gore, but still like to hide be­hind a pop­corn car­ton. And you will soon af­ter An­gela (Olivia Tay­lor Dud­ley) slices her fin­ger cut­ting a birth­day cake and then gets bit­ten by a loose raven on a bus. Such is the ab­stract na­ture of de­monic pos­ses­sion that it can strike any­where and th­ese in­ci­dents lead to hor­ri­ble changes in An­gela’s per­son­al­ity. Her boyfriend (John Pa­trick Ame­dori) and mil­i­tary fa­ther Roger (Dougray Scott) can only stand by and watch as the girl they love grows in­sa­tiably thirsty, blacks out sud­denly and starts to look ter­ri­ble.

But when An­gela goes to hospi­tal and tries to kill a baby, it’s time for the kindly pri­est (Michael Pena) to take charge along with a far more in­tim­i­dat­ing Vat­i­can-based Car­di­nal (Pe­ter An­der­s­son) who knows more than he should about Satan. Olivia Tay­lor Dud­ley, who looks like an Ar­quette sis­ter, is ex­cel­lent as the pos­sessed girl, re­ly­ing en­tirely on fa­cial ex­pres­sions to con­vey the de­monic force within and her own per­sonal ter­ror. Granted the theme is not orig­i­nal, but the end­ing is smart and, much like Bond, the devil has en­dur­ing ap­peal at the cin­ema.

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