From the director of the excellent – and hardcore – The Seasoning House (2012) and the action-packed Howl (2015), The Convent is a supernatural horror film set in the 17th century and about a young woman saved from execution and led to a priory to repent her sins. Once she gets there, Persephone (Hannah Arterton) discovers a greater evil lies within the walls of the convent.
The Convent hit VOD on May 3rd, and it’s now easy to rent and watch on Amazon, iTunes and tons of other platforms.
The main reason why I gave this movie a chance is the director, Paul Hyett: 7 years ago, his debut feature film, The Seasoning House, became very popular in the “disturbing movies” community. In fact, I love that movie due to its relentless approach, fast pace, solid performances and double-twist at the end. Howl, instead, is a just a fun and gory creature-feature horror flick that isn’t great in filmmaking terms, but it’s extremely entertaining nonetheless.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – The Convent (2018)
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With The Convent, a 81-minute-long possession flick, I was every curious to see how the gruesome approach of this filmmaker could relate to a sub-genre that doesn’t usually rely on gore and physical violence.
Indeed, one of the positives with the movie consists of the gory and bloody sequences: the opening credits of The Convent are accompanied by disturbing and bloody images that set the tone for what seems to be a wild ride. After that, every scene where the violence explodes is extremely gruesome and hard to watch for fans of “traditional” possession films.
The Convent plays out as an odd mix of Dark Waters (a vastly overlooked Italian nunsploitation film from 1994) and American Guinea Pig: Song of Solomon (2017, probably one of the goriest supernatural horror movies ever made).
However, the great potential and interesting concept (on paper) fall flat as soon as it becomes clear that The Convent is just a series of fillers that frame the gory sequences: those are mostly well-executed, but they’re also too few and far apart in the movie, leaving the audience with plenty of dull moments and uninteresting dialogue-driven sequences. Yet, the acting is probably one of the worst aspects of the movie, being either wooden or laughably over-the-top.
Also, the two best actors in the film (Michael Ironside and Rosie Day, who I think is a fantastic actress) are unfortunately underutilised. They’re only side-characters who serve little to no purpose to the story, making they’re appearance in the story rather useless.
The saving grace for The Convent could’ve been the ending, which consists of 20 minutes where everything goes bonkers in the titular convent; gruesome kills and unspeakable violence are displayed on screen. However, even this is ruined by the overreliance on cheap and poorly rendered CGI that just looks awful.
On a technical level, The Convent is atrociously lazy and poorly made. Despite good production values (again, on paper), the movie relies on unimaginative cinematography, simple and by the books camera-work, jarring editing, cheap costumes and cliché score (the overuse of violin is one of my biggest pet-peeves in modern horror cinema).
In conclusion, I had high hopes for The Convent, but at the end I barely made it through the movie without turning it off. I still believe Paul Hyett is an interesting filmmaker, who should stick to what he does best, though. The Convent has a few decent qualities, but it fails on most of the elements it tried to achieve.
The Convent 3.5/10
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