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This 2023 horror movie is topping the charts on Netflix. Here’s why you should watch it

As the only major studio without a streaming service to call its own, Sony has to rely on others to give its films a streaming platform. And since Netflix has lined up the rights to Sony’s latest releases, another one of the studio’s 2023 movies has arrived on Netflix and raced to the top of its list of 10 most popular films. The Pope’s Exorcist only had a brief stay in theaters, but Netflix subscribers can’t seem to get enough of this horror flick. So instead of getting Christmas in July, Netflix has given us Halloween in August.

If you’re looking for a few scares and a good horror story to send some chills down your spine during these hot summer nights, here are three reasons why you should watch The Pope’s Exorcist.

Russell Crowe gives a commanding performance

Russell Crowe in The Pope's Exorcist.
Sony Pictures

After his very silly cameo as Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder, it was easy to forget that Russell Crowe is an Oscar-winning actor. That’s not the case in The Pope’s Exorcist. Crowe fully inhabits his role as Father Gabriele Amorth, and he gives the film gravitas by treating the events seriously. But Crowe also allows Amorth to have some moments of levity, as well as vulnerability when it becomes clear that even this veteran of the cloth may be in over his head.

Simply put, this movie wouldn’t work without Crowe holding it together by humanizing Amorth. He may be “the James Bond of exorcists,” but Crowe makes Amorth relatable and understandable. We always know where Father Amorth is coming from, even when his enemies in the Vatican cast shade on him. This guy is the real deal, at least within the fictional world of the film.

It’s a surprisingly effective horror movie

Peter DeSouza-Feighoney as Henry in The Pope's Exorcist.
Sony Pictures

If you’ve seen one exorcism movie, then you’ve seen them all. The Exorcist really set the template five decades ago. And while The Pope’s Exorcist follows a lot of the same cues as The Exorcist, it plays the greatest hits well. Peter DeSouza-Feighoney gives a very creepy physical performance as Henry, a young boy who is possessed by a demon. As an added touch, Ralph Ineson provides the voice of the demon inside of Henry’s body, and he sounds like evil personified.

Most of the previous films in this genre seem to revolve around the partnership between two men of the cloth. In this movie, it’s Crowe’s Father Amorth who takes a local priest, Father Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), under his wing as his assistant for Henry’s exorcism. And while Esquibel’s inexperience puts both men in danger, even Amorth acknowledges that the evil they are facing may be more than they can handle. It always comes back to faith in these flicks, but this movie hits all of the right notes to make it work on its own terms.

It’s deeper than you might think

Russell Crowe and Daniel Zovatto in The Pope's Exorcist.
Sony Pictures

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Pope’s Exorcist is that Amorth and Esquibel aren’t just battling to save Henry’s soul — they’re fighting to save their own as well. Both men are haunted by past sins, which the demon weaponizes against them.

Additionally, Amorth discovers that the church itself has a shameful secret that is connected to a demonic possession that has been repressed for centuries. This revelation significantly ups the stakes for both Amorth and Esquibel as their current demonic adversary has grand plans to destroy the church from within. And if they aren’t careful, these dark ambitions may come to pass.

Watch The Pope’s Exorcist on Netflix.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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