Review: ‘The Convent’, Doomed From The Start

The next iteration of creepy nuns fighting with demons is here in The Convent. Just like the last version of this age ole battle in The Nun, this one also fails to live up to expectations. The Convent is a period piece that takes place in England in the mid-1600s. Persephone (Hannah Arterton) is a young woman who is accused of being a witch. She has been sentenced to death by the magistrate, but just as the sentence is announced she is saved by the grace of god. By that I mean a nun, Reverend Mother (Clare Higgins), comes to her aid and argues with the magistrate – getting him to reverse his decision and allow the Reverend Mother to take Persephone with her. Reverend Mother is the head honcho to a group of nuns living at a – you guessed it – convent, that she has Persephone join. The nuns at this convent are atoning for past sins in a place normally thought to be one of safety and worship. Almost immediately, Persephone begins to have nightmares and see demonic visions. Persephone is unable to stay out of trouble’s way and keeps getting herself punished – having to spend time in isolation, the perfect setting for a demonic presence to keep terrorizing her. The more time Persephone spends at the convent, the more she begins to realize the true evil that is lurking there, coming for all the sister’s souls.

When the dust settled, The Convent didn’t do it for me. I respect some of the things that writer/director Paul Hyett was able to do with a limited budget – the set and costumes come to mind immediately. Period pieces are tough, and when you add a demonic factor into it, that makes it even harder to provide a visually appealing product. The problem was, The Convent wasn’t visually appealing in the slightest. The effects were awful and at times, laughable. Back in the early 70s, when The Exorcist was released, they may have been frightening, but in this day and age they were far from. Many filmmakers know their limitations in this regard, so they try and avoid scenes where these budgetary shortcomings would be evident. They focus more on music, shadows, and slow camera movements to build a sense of dread. Sometimes not seeing the evil and only knowing it is present can be much more effective then throwing bad makeup and special effects in our face. It is not a good sign when the best part of a film is the runtime... but clocking in at around 80 minutes, this is the case with The Convent. The Convent had promise, but unfortunately it failed to deliver across the board – this is one I’d avoid.

Rating: 1 out of 5