Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Convent

The Convent is an odd film, and certainly not for everyone, but I still find myself subjecting my friends to it whenever someone comes over who hasn't heard of the film, and I tend to enjoy it a little more each time I watch it. That may be due to the opening scene, which sets a high water mark that the remainder of the film cannot hope to sustain. It's a knockout of an opening that ranks among my favorite movie moments. This gives the rest of the film a sense of anticlimax, which is unfortunate because it's actually quite fun, although very low-rent and goofy.

Opening with a woman wearing black leather walking in slow motion into a convent, where she promptly chugs some whiskey, and proceeds to pull a baseball bat out of her duffel bag, attacking the nuns with abandon, all to the strains of a perfectly placed pop song from the sixties. This act goes unexplained for a bit as the film flashes forward several decades, to present day where the condemned convent has passed into urban legend, and Christine, the leather-clad woman from the opening, lives unseen in a spooky house after being released from a psychiatric ward. It's a bit suspect that a woman responsible for so many violent murders would ever be released, but if this bothers you, you may want to stop watching; logic isn't necessarily something you should expect from this movie.

The movie follows a group of college kids as they head out on an annual rite of passage to sneak past the local police and vandalize the convent, immortalizing their fraternity's logo. The "witty'' banter between these kids is anything but, and yet I still find myself chuckling at the atypical goth girl's perkiness and horndog Frijole's repeated claims of being able to seduce any woman in "fiiiiiiiiive minutes". Megahn Perry plays Mo, the entirely too-chipper goth girl, and is one of the highlights of the film. Staying behind at the convent when the local cops(played by Bill Mosely and a twitchy Coolio) bust the kids for trespassing, Mo runs afoul of a couple of poser devil worshipers, the hilariously effeminate Lords of Darkness. The Lords of Darkness are at the convent to, apparently, impress a couple of gullible women with a phony satanic ritual that unfortunately summons actual demons.

The effects in this movie are lower than low budget, amounting to basically glow in the dark makeup and blacklight. The most professional this gets is a bit of sped up camera work during the demonic transformations that looks like a cheaper version of the same effect used in Jacob's Ladder. Still, this isn't a complaint. You don't necessarily look for slick, polished film making in direct to video horror films, and the low rent effects fit perfectly with the quirky, cheesy charm of the film. And The Convent is self aware enough to know that this stuff is silly, and makes up for it with actual comedy, particularly when it comes to the scenes involving the Lords of Darkness and their inept bungling as they realize the bullshit they've been spewing is actually real.

There's a cooler-than-cool cameo towards the end of the movie that I won't spoil, although IMDB and the All Movie guide have no such qualms, so those of you without the patience to sit through a 90 minute movie can go find out who it is at any time. As I said, that opening scene may lead you to believe the movie your watching is better than it is, and may lead to some disappointment as you watch this the first time. But if you let your judgment go, and just settle back to enjoy a fun "bad" movie, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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