The Pope’s Exorcist parents guide

The Pope’s Exorcist Parent Guide

This demonic horror thriller isn't possessed of much originality, but it does have Russell Crowe.

Overall D

Theaters: Father Gabriele is the Vatican's Chief Exorcist and as such he's been called out to a terrifying case. A renovation in an ancient abbey has unleashed a demonic spirit that is controlling a child and threatening the fate of the Catholic Church.

Release date April 13, 2023

Violence C
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Pope’s Exorcist rated R? The MPAA rated The Pope’s Exorcist R for violent content, language, sexual references and some nudity

Run Time: 103 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Although he spent his youth as an Italian partisan fighting fascism during the Second World War, Father Gabriele Amorth (Russell Crowe) spends his adult years fighting different battles. As the Chief Exorcist to the Vatican, he wages spiritual warfare against the forces of evil as they infest the Earth. He’s been called to thousands of alleged demonic possessions, and although he has found that 98% of them are just strange mental illnesses, it’s that last 2% that keep him busy.

Father Amorth’s newest assignment might be the worst yet. Julia (Ales Essoe) and her children, Amy (Laurel Marsen) and Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) have inherited a former abbey in Spain and are trying to renovate the building to sell. Unfortunately for them, the work in the abbey’s basement has unleashed something horrible which has seized Henry. Henry, or rather, whatever is occupying him, demands to see a priest – a request the Vatican is happy to oblige after Henry telekinetically flings the local priest, Father Esquibel (Daniel Zobatto) through a door. But Father Amorth is going to have to be careful: Henry isn’t the only danger lurking in the former abbey, and the secrets hidden beneath the building pose a direct threat, not only to the residents, but to the entire Church…and maybe the world itself.

While almost every movie about exorcisms seems to brand itself as “based on a true story” (a claim I suspect even many Catholics are inclined to doubt), this film does have one thing going for it: Father Gabriele Amorth was a real Catholic priest and the Chief Exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, which is quite the job title. Beyond that, I suspect this story is entirely fictional, so if you’re looking for some historical research material, I’d look a little further than your local cinema.

Filmgoers less concerned with history will find a familiar story of faith, violence, and hellish temptations. The movie doesn’t add much to genre conventions and colors rigidly inside the lines. Thankfully, Russell Crowe keeps the movie going. His rogueish good humor in the face of harrowing spiritual peril, or worse, an investigative committee of the Catholic Church, gives the audience a character to root for, which many of these films completely fail to do. I doubt that it’s a particularly accurate portrayal of the real Father Amorth, but it’s entertaining, and I’ll take what I can get.

As you might have suspected, this film is not going to make waves in the younger demographics. While it isn’t terribly scary, there’s some unsettling violence, liberal profanity, and topless nudity that makes The Pope’s Exorcist more suitable for secular Saturday night entertainment than Sunday school viewing. I know, I know, I’m just as shocked as you are that a horror movie about demons is more interested in providing entertainment than spiritual guidance. While I suspect that Catholic audiences might not be hog wild about some of the theological implications of the story, they can at least take comfort in the fact that the film presupposes the accuracy and authority of Catholic doctrine, as do all exorcism movies. If you can’t get spiritual enlightenment, maybe you’ll settle for theological validation.

Directed by Julius Avery. Starring Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release April 13, 2023. Updated

The Pope’s Exorcist
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Pope’s Exorcist rated R? The Pope’s Exorcist is rated R by the MPAA for violent content, language, sexual references and some nudity

Violence: An individual commits suicide by jumping from a building, and another character unsuccessfully attempts suicide by hanging. A child is shown deeply scratching their own skin. A man is severely burned in a gas explosion. Several characters are shot and killed in a flashback. A character is briefly strangled. Several characters are seriously bitten. An individual bites the head off a live bird. A person explodes. A pig is shot and killed.
Sexual Content: There are several instances of sexually explicit language. A woman is seen topless on several occasions.
Profanity: There are 17 sexual expletives, four scatological curses, and occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are briefly seen drinking alcohol. A teenager is reprimanded for smoking a cigarette.

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