Demonic possession is an inescapable subgenre of horror film. Classics such as The Exorcist used it to usher in a bolder age of cinema, and recent tracks like Evil Dead Rise use it to spook even the most hardened freaky film fan. As I write this, there's one demonic horror movie sitting atop them all as the number three film on Netflix between August 14 and 20. With over 6 million views that week alone, the film is The Pope's Exorcist.
The Pope's Exorcist stars Russell Crowe as Father Gabriele Amorth, who is, as the title suggests, the personal exorcist of the head of the Catholic Church. After rubbing some Cardinals the wrong way, Amorth is sent on a semi-forced sabatical to assist a family in Spain, whose youngest son is showing signs of demonic possession. What happens next is one hell of a ride, and we're here to tell you the devil in the details.
In case you somehow were not already aware: major spoilers for The Pope's Exorcist follow.
How does The Pope's Exorcist end?
Along with a younger priest, Father Tomas Esquibel, Amorth spends time with the family and learns about their home. Turns out, it used to be a Spanish abbey, where a demon-possessed priest did evil things as part of the Spanish Inquisition. When Amorth sends information of this discovery to the pope, he becomes ill. The child's status is worsening as well, with the demon driving him toward death.
As a last-ditch effort to rid the family of their evil entity, Amorth offers himself as a vessel for the demon. It promptly takes control of him and Amorth attempts suicide to be rid of it for good. However, the demon itself stops this, as it would rather infiltrate the church like it did with the Inquisition priest. This gives Esquibel the chance to intervene, and the two priests are able to drive the spirit out together.
With the demon gone, the child improves, as does the pope. The church purchases the troubled home and reconsecrates it. At the end of the film, one of the Cardinals that supported Amorth since the beginning shows him into a secret wing of the Vatican, where a collection of 199 evil places are recorded. With the Church's blessing, Amorth is assigned to visit them all, hinting that this isn't the last we see of this papal pugilist. In fact, we know it won't be.
Will there be a Pope's Exorcist 2?
There will indeed! Bloody Disgusting confirmed on April 25 that The Pope's Exorcist 2 is in early development, and that, "we do expect Crowe to return." Though the article does not mention whether director Julius Avery (Overlord) will return, it only makes sense that there's more story to tell in the world of The Pope's Exorcist. After all, the real guy claims to have performed over 100,000 of the procedures.
What's the true story behind The Pope's Exorcist?
Oh shoot, did we not mention that? Yeah, Father Gabriele Amorth was very much a real person, a self-proclaimed exorcist officially employed by the Catholic Church. He was the subject of several documentaries before his death in 2016 at the age of 91. His books, An Exorcist Tells His Story and An Exorcist: More Stories were the basis for the film.
Good luck sleeping tonight, kids!
Where can I watch The Pope's Exorcist?
As mentioned above, The Pope's Exorcist is now streaming on Netflix. Interestingly, however, it is not a Netflix original. Despite the fact that the petrifying possession pic is doing extremely well on that streaming service, you can rent it on Amazon and AppleTV. That's a bit of a deal with the devil, though - renting the flick on either of those is going to cost you $5.99.
If you liked the secret society of demon hunters in The Pope's Exorcist but wished there were more swords and superspeed, we have just the franchise for you. Check out our Demon Slayer watch order.