Directed by Scott Jeffrey and Rebecca Matthews, Exorcist Vengeance is a supernatural horror mystery about Father Jozsef. The Vatican regularly calls in the resilient priest to handle possessions and exorcisms. It’s a familiar narrative, no doubt. Nonetheless, screenwriters Matthew B.C. and Jeff Miller tweak the premise to involve mystery, action, and violence.
Audiences will notice that the film is oddly comparable to Death Wish, comparisons Jeffrey and Matthews embrace early on. Father Jozsef, played by Charles Bronson lookalike Robert Bronzi, chases a criminal into an alley, points a gun at him, and asks if he repents. Obviously, he is not your average priest, as his spiritual arsenal involves a bible, a cross, and a gun, much to the dismay of Bishop Canelo (Steven Berkoff). Even so, Bishop Canelo is aware of the renegade priest’s exorcism skills, so he sends Father Jozsef to the home of a family being terrorized by a malefic demon.
Christine (Nicola Wright) is a single mother to Nick (Ben Parsons) and Rebecca (Sarah Alexandra Marks). She’s joined by her brother Patrick (Simon Furness) and his daughter. Christine is the pious one who thinks a demon has infiltrated her home. Patrick, however, is not convinced that a demon is possessing a host. The first half is your typical exorcism story: tumultuous, gruesome, and hellish. Unfortunately, there is a lack of tension due to budgetary restraints and a flimsy grasp on tone and genre. But an unexpected death triggers a mystery, which is more thrilling and poignant than any other aspect.
“…sends Father Jozsef to the home of a family being terrorized by a malefic demon.”
The second half of Exorcist Vengeance takes a step back to delve into the importunate pain behind Father Jozsef’s cold exterior. There’s still a fair amount of demonic mayhem, but the movie becomes more dramatic in approach. But, while narratively fascinating, the execution is muddled by the coinciding bouts of campiness and solemnity, which don’t mesh well. It undercuts the mounting suspense often.
But, there are more consistent elements that work in the film’s favor. For instance, Mike Ellaway’s score sustains some much-needed suspense. The quaint house setting feels lived-in, establishing what once was a place of warmth is now an inescapable purgatory where a demon runs rampant. Plus, while the acting isn’t always convincing, there is a unique family dynamic that intrigues.
Father Jozsef is a peculiar yet engrossing protagonist. Speaking in a soft, gruff tone and radiating an aura of confidence, he proves to be a worthy adversary to a perfidious demon. And yet, while a priest who threatens to fire a gun at a human and a demon is shocking in itself, perhaps it is a bit laughable and unbelievable as well. But then again, Robert Bronzi’s calm, swagger-like demeanor is deliberately and charmingly overdone.
For all of its familiar plotting and B-movie antics, Exorcist Vengeance never goes completely off the rails. Instead, the filmmakers find their footing amid the second half by incorporating more melancholic subject matter. That being said, an uneven tone and underdeveloped suspense prevent the supernatural horror mystery from reaching success.
"…Ellaway's score sustains some much-needed suspense."