Every single goddam year we have to put up with a series of exorcism films. Usually, it consists of an attractive young woman, who vies desperately to rid herself of the demonic evilness within, while a series of hapless priests and a completely redundant boyfriend stand around wielding a cross and hoping for the best. It’s a tedious, hackneyed and completely tired concept in contemporary cinema, with films in recent years such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism, The Possession and The Devil Inside all abiding to the tropes of this sub-genre, and that’s just a small handful. Mark Neveldine’s The Vatican Tapes approaches the exact same themes, in a frustratingly uninspiring, prosaic way. Is this really the best idea you’ve got?

Angela (Olivia Tylor Dudley) may appear normal on the surface, but inside she’s harbouring a demonic power, and one that alerts her boyfriend Pete (John Patrick Amedon) and father, Roger (Dougray Scott) who fear she may be possessed – and so seek the help of the local, concerned priest Father Lozano (Michael Pena) and two Vatican exorcists to free the evil spirit within, before it’s too late.

It’s boring isn’t it? Imaging sitting through it. The worse thing is, the special effects are lacklustre and the acting even more so – except they can be excused where low-budget horror movies are concerned, and in some regards, that deliberate, B-movie approach is even appreciated by fans of the genre and can work towards building up a cult following of sorts. But one place where there simply isn’t the excuse of needing more money – is the narrative. You don’t need millions of dollars to think of something intelligent, or new – you just need to be resourceful and creative.

Seeing as Neveldine seems incensed on working his way through every single cliché we’ve grown accustomed to in this brand of horror, it seems fitting that there’s also a contrived, clumsy attempt to bring in a found footage element, with random CCTV tapes shown to us throughout the endeavour. It’s not an approach you should be tackling these days given how banal it has become (see M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit) – but if you do want to explore the style, then at least commit to it and do it properly.

The Vatican Tapes is a dull production that fails to compel, or terrify in any way, shape or form – and with the likes of Pena on board, not to mention a supporting cast that also consists of Djimon Hounsou – you can’t help but feel somewhat confused by their decision to take part in this project. Perhaps it was that the screenplay was just so inviting – but to be frank, it’s hard to imagine that was the case either.