THE POPE’S EXORCIST*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Jeremy
June 1987 – In Tropea, Italy, Father Gabriele Amorth (Russell Crowe), personal exorcist to the Pope (Franco Nero), rides in on a scooter to the home of a possessed young man. Amorth speaks to the man’s sister before finding the man in his bedroom. He speaks to Amorth, claiming to be the devil himself. Amorth taunts the demon and says that he is not powerful enough to possess a pig that Amorth brought with him. The demon accepts Amorth’s challenge and exits the man’s body to possess the pig, only for one of Amorth’s associates to kill the pig with a shotgun blast to the head.
Sometime later in Castilla, Spain, a family – mother Julia (Alex Essoe) and kids Amy (Laurel Marsden) and Henry (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) – arrive at their new home. Julia’s family inherited an abbey from her late husband that they are trying to fix up and sell. Henry has not spoken since then because he witnessed his father’s death in a tragic car accident. Henry explores the house and comes across a mysterious room with an unusual artifact. Meanwhile, Julia asks Amy to try and help her out with Henry despite her moody behavior.
The next day, Amorth arrives in Rome to meet with the higher-ups in the church over the exorcism in Tropea due to him doing it without their permission. Amorth has one friend on his side, Bishop Lulumba (Cornell John), but he is antagonized by Cardinal Sullivan (Ryan O’Grady), who does not believe in demonic possession. Amorth argues that evil is real, alluding to a woman named Rosaria (Bianca Bardoe), who was possessed but died after Amorth failed to save her. He walks out of the meeting, angering Sullivan further.
The men working on the abbey go toward the location Henry was exploring, and one of them lights a flare near the open area, causing an explosion that injures them. Something sinister appears to be awoken from there, as Henry begins to have a seizure, which Julia and Amy witness. Henry then speaks for the first time since the accident, but he tells his mother and sister that they will die before he claws at his own face.
Julia takes Henry to run tests, but his vitals appear normal. Back at home, Amy tends to him as he is heating up, but more strange things occur. Henry pulls up his shirt, revealing “HATE” scratched into his abdomen. Henry then growls in a demonic voice (Ralph Ineson) “BRING ME THE PRIEST.” Julia calls upon Father Tomas Esquibel (Daniel Zovatto), but the demonic force in Henry throws Tomas against the walls as he yells, “WRONG FUCKING PRIEST.”
Amorth goes to visit the Pope. They discuss the other higher-ups in the church and their skepticism, but the Pope says that he and Amorth know the truth. The Pope tells Amorth about Henry’s possession, trusting that he is the only one capable of driving out the evil, but also warning him that this demon is very dangerous.
Amorth travels to Spain and rides on his scooter to the abbey, where he meets Tomas, Julia, and Amy. Tomas has heard of Amorth and the books that he has written, even though he hasn’t read them (though Amorth says they are good). Amorth goes to see Henry, speaking to the demon. It taunts Amorth and says it hopes to take on the challenge of possessing an exorcist. While Amorth keeps his cool for the most part, the demon can access his memories of himself in the war and surviving a gunshot wound. The demon then makes Henry regurgitate a dead bird. Amorth finds himself genuinely disturbed by the entity.
Amorth goes to Julia and tries to assure her that through faith, they can save Henry. The demon then starts to torment Amy by making her hear her father’s voice and making a sinister call through the phone.
Tomas joins Amorth in the exorcism, despite Tomas being inexperienced as an exorcist. The demon plays with Amorth’s mind by showing him images of Rosaria telling him how he failed, as well as mocking Tomas about a woman that he had extramarital relations with. This provokes Tomas into grabbing Henry and trying to choke him. The demon says that Amorth has taken its bait. Tomas privately talks to Amorth, saying that the woman, Adela, was the love of his life, but he regrets breaking his vow to the cloth. Amorth says they need to save Henry soon before the demon kills him, so they need to find out its name.
Amorth leaves Tomas to keep an eye on the family while he investigates a well nearby. Amorth drops an ignited paper down it, resulting in a massive burst of flames. In the house, the demon continues its rampage by having Henry bite part of Tomas’s ear off, while it tries to pull Julia into her bed and throw Amy around the room. The priests bring Julia and Amy into the abbey to sleep.
Amorth brings Tomas toward the well to look further into the demon’s background, while back in Rome, the Pope is looking through documents over the abbey’s history. He becomes unwell and faints before being taken to the hospital. The Pope tries to get a message to Lulumba and Sullivan for Amorth, only to spew blood in Sullivan’s face.
The priests find catacombs where non-converts were executed and buried, along with one man who locked himself in a cage for the protection of others. In that man’s body, Amorth finds a key that takes them further into the catacombs. He and Tomas find the body of a founder of the Spanish Inquisition who was also an exorcist, learning that he was possessed and infiltrated the church, which is what the demon is trying to do now by gathering an army of possessed victims. While this happens, the demon manages to simultaneously possess Amy along with Henry. Tomas finds a book and shows it to Amorth, revealing the demon’s name – Asmodeus. Once spoken, Amy is broken from her possession.
Tomas realizes that Asmodeus is specifically targeting Amorth since he is closest to the Pope. Amorth talks to Tomas about his experiences in the war and his survivor’s guilt, along with his guilt in failing to save Rosaria because he thought she was simply mentally ill, but she jumped to her death in front of him. Rosaria’s death exposed certain deeds in the church, and Amorth feels great remorse for not helping her when she needed it. Amorth asks for forgiveness, and Tomas absolves him.
Amorth and Tomas gather Julia and Amy as they prepare to ultimately save Henry. His face looks more monstrous as Asmodeus taunts the priests by saying there’s no way to save the boy. Asmodeus taunts them further with visions of Rosaria and Adela, but the priests do not break their focus. Henry’s real voice starts to emerge, but he has become weakened due to the demon’s power. It carves “GOD IS NOT HERE” on Henry’s body before possessing Amy again and having her attack Julia. Amorth relents and allows Asmodeus to take over his body, saving Tomas and the family. The Pope awakens and senses that Amorth is in danger. Tomas gets Julia and the kids out of the house while Amorth is possessed.
Amorth attempts to hang himself to get rid of the demon, but Asmodeus’s power has grown and is causing destruction around the house. It forces Amorth back down to the catacombs, where Tomas finds Amorth and begs him to fight the demon’s influence. Amorth sees another demonic vision of Rosaria rising from the ground. Tomas helps to fight back as the demon attempts to use Amorth to destroy the church. More demonic visions of Rosaria and Adela attack the priests, but Tomas throws Amorth a cross, and together, they drive Asmodeus into a black pit where the demon is sent back to Hell. Amorth thanks Tomas and then takes a drink from his flask.
Amorth returns to Rome with Tomas so that he can meet the Pope. He requests a report on Spain and tells Amorth that Sullivan has taken a sabbatical in Guam after experiencing the demon’s power during Amorth’s possession, and he has been replaced by Lulumba. He tells Amorth and Tomas that they are being sent to other sites of demonic possession to combat the Devil’s work. Amorth tells Tomas, “We’re going to Hell.”
The ending text states that Father Gabriele Amorth continued his work helping people until his death in 2016. He wrote many books, with the text adding that “the books are good”. After the credits, a picture of the real Amorth is shown.
The film is based on the real-life work of Father Gabriele Amorth, personal exorcist to the Pope in the 1980's.
A family - Julia and her kids Amy and Henry - move into a new home in Spain next to an abbey they inherited from Julia's late husband. Henry becomes possessed by a demon unleashed in the house. Amorth and novice exorcist Father Tomas Esquibel travel to Spain to help the boy. The demon, Asmodeus, has deeper intentions to possess Amorth and take over the Catholic church. It continuously taunts Amorth and Tomas with visions of their past that haunt them, including Amorth surviving in the war when his fellow soldiers were killed, as well as a woman named Rosaria that Amorth failed to save.
Amorth manages to save Henry (and an equally possessed Amy) by allowing Asmodeus to inhabit his body. After Tomas gets the family out, Asmodeus tries to lead Amorth to infiltrate the church, but Tomas helps him expel the demon and send it back to Hell.
Amorth and Tomas later continue their work on other sites haunted by demonic possession.