IT'S rare for me to feel that I've been cheated after watching a film, but that's how I felt after sitting through director Mark Neveldine's The Vatican Tapes.
I'm pretty sure viewers will scratch their heads and look at each other at the conclusion of this 90-minute film, thinking that there has to be more to this, other than a possessed blue-eyed pretty blonde throwing people around and killing them.
If the anti-Christ is certain to walk the Earth, irregardless of what is in its path, then there's no point in creating a back story and showing a man of the cloth trying to draw out the evil spirit. Even showing an exorcism would have been better than nothing.
And the anti-Christ hardly faces any resistance or obstacle that's worthy to be included in a horror film claiming to show the "ultimate battle between good and evil -- God versus Satan".
What's the big deal about three eggs, representing the Holy Trinity, coming out of the anti-Christ's mouth? My first thought was ... hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.
The anti-Christ also speaks in Aramic, has a deep male voice when it wants to sound menacing and can contort its body in innumerable ways. These features have made an appearance in many exorcism films.
Much more interesting is the relationship between Angela (Olivia Taylor Dudley), 27, and her army colonel father Roger (Dougray Scott, who played the baddie in Mission: Impossible 2). She lives with her boyfriend Peter (John Patrick Amedori) under the same roof with her father, who, obviously, is not too keen with the arrangement.
This situation in itself would have triggered the wrath of many an Irish Catholic father. Meanwhile, viewers will have a hard time figuring out what the couple do for a living.
Peter organises a surprise birthday party for Angela, with friends coming out of the woodwork to celebrate the occasion, but oddly enough, the trio get through the rest of the film without the appearance of any other friend. No one even visits Angela when she's warded at the hospital for a 40-day coma.
A mysterious-looking raven pops in and out, and viewers find out later that it's the devil's messenger. I nearly choked now: why would evil need a raven to pass messages?
Father Lozano (Michael Pena of Ant-Man) is a former army chaplain who was there when it all started, and who will give advice and console the dad when things get out of hand.
At the Vatican, Vicar Imani (Djimon Hounsou of Guardians of the Galaxy) and Cardinal Bruun (Peter Andersson) spend a lot of time staring at an Apple desktop computer showing strange happenings in the US.
In a flashback, viewers are shown how Angela the pure, who's never said anything bad about anyone in her life, transforms from a sweet woman to a woman's who's always thirsty and whose make-up changes constantly.
There's no sight nor mention of Angela's mum, so by the time Angela/Devil is trapped in her bedroom, she will have to face off against four men (cardinal, priest, dad and lover) alone.
The film shows some early promise when Angela wipes out a few people through telekinetic powers. But it soon gets boring, and viewers are left bemused at the end.
1 1/2 out of 5 stars