New this week in select theaters and On Demand from Lionsgate!
Directed by Xavier Gens
Written by Chad Hayes
Starring Sophie Cookson, Corneliu Ulici, Brittany Ashworth, Matthew Zajac, Diana Vladu, Florian Voicu, Radu Bânzaru, Iván González, Emil Mandanac, Radu Andrei Micu, Olivia Nita, Alexis Rodney, & Javier Botet as the Faceless Man!
Xavier Gens, the director of such nihilistic classics as THE DIVIDE and FRONTIER[S] (let’s just forget about HITMAN, shall we), delves once again into horror with THE CRUCIFIXION, an exorcist film with terrifying and vivid imagery, but little substance and few characters worth caring about.
Beginning with the words “Based on true events…” which seems to be required for all horror films these days, THE CRUCIFIXION opens with an exorcism gone wrong. A priest and a handful of nuns are arrested for the death of a nun they saw was possessed by a demon. Intrigued by this story, a young reporter named Nicole (Sophie Cookson) with preconceived notions about religion due to the death of her parents, convinces her editor to fly to Italy to investigate. This puts Nicole face to face with the priest accused of murder, and on the trail of a demon who seems to be passing from one host to another, all the while, being haunted by images of the dead nun and demons herself which test her belief in Catholicism.
I’ll give this movie one thing; it has a great visual style. Everything from the expansive shots of the countryside to the horrific shots of ants crawling around the nethers of a young sleeping nun—the imagery Gens captures is unique and/transfixing. Sure there are too many hollow jump scares accentuated by huge bangs of sound, but when Gens wants to, he is able to convey a capable sense of suspense. I just wish he would rely on that more than the tried and tired jumps that really signify a film that has little confidence in itself to be scary, so it goes for the easy startle in order to evoke the flight or fight reflex in all of us.
While FRONTIER[S] and THE DIVIDE had a ton of character to latch onto along with the visuals, THE CRUCIFIXION simply doesn’t have the script for it. Not enough time is given to get to know, much less care about Nicole’s character and despite Cookson being easy on the eyes and a fine actress, she is really not given much to do or say that makes you care about her. Gens is more interested in tossing one scare after another at the viewer instead of allowing us to actually care for our lead or any of the other characters.
On top of that, aside from the bugs in the crotch scene, there is little else going on here that we haven’t seen before in exorcism films. Instead of a bed the possessed girl is tied to, it’s a crucifix. There is still plenty of God power being compelled and lots of spitting, screaming, and levitating going on by the possessed. You’ve got to try harder than that to make an exorcism film stand out and THE CRUCIFIXION simply doesn’t have what it takes to do that, icky bug crotch scene or not.