The Convent takes us back to the early 17th century, where simple things like wealth, having more than one female friend and having vivid, spooky dreams can get you accused of being a witch. And in the case of our main character Persephone, who probably isn’t a witch, a false accusation lands her a sentence of death. It seems that her fate is sealed until the intervention of a mysterious Reverend Mother, who is the leader of a small religious retreat and willing to take the girl in to redeem herself. Right away it’s very clear that nothing is as it seems in this apparent safe haven. Upon arrival, Persephone is plagued with terrifying visions and soon realizes that it’s not salvation that awaits her but a battle for her very soul itself.
Thanks to movies such as The Exorcist and Alucarda, religious horror has earned a special place in my heart. And in the case of Paul Hyett’s The Convent? It’s a glorious gore fest. This flick checks off everything on my list: accidental satanism, mysterious night noises, and the undead, oh my! Just when you think it can’t get any worse, you’re proven wrong again and again. And, oddly enough, you’re into it.
The Convent is a must see that expertly winds up the ongoing paranoia with eerie atmosphere and morbid prayers that would make the likes of Roman Polanski proud. Especially with it’s use of special effects. Now normally I’m not a huge fan of movies jam-packed with carnage (especially stuff with eyeballs because…ew) but I couldn’t help making an exception for The Convent. Even though I felt a little skeeved out, director Paul Hyett spaces out and plays off these slightly amateur effects in a way that gives viewers the vibe that he’s not invested in the shock value of making a horror movie. He’s more so interested in creating a mood of pure instability; the kind of mood that really puts people on the edge of their seats. This results in a horrific cautionary tale that is held up by it’s incredible cast.
Hyett teases you deeper and deeper into this story with addictive prose and lovable characters. While I enjoyed all the performances in this movie, I especially liked Hannah Arterton who plays the mysterious Persephone with a grace that will leave you pleasantly surprised when she goes into ass kicking mode later on in the film. If I needed to be fussy about anything it would be the previously mentioned, lackluster special effects. The blood and guts are fine, no complaints there. However in the case of some fire or a certain decapitation scene, it came off a bit silly.
But don’t let this scare you away because The Convent is well-constructed and almost flawlessly executed through most of the story. While the movie is not perfect, the talented cast and crew combine to craft a completely enjoyable horror film. The perfect movie to throw on during a dark and stormy night.
The Convent opens in select theaters and On Demand starting May 3rd via Vertical Entertainment! Check it out!
Wicked Rating: 8/10
Director(s): Paul Hyett
Writer(s): Paul Hyett, Conal Palmer, Gregory Blair
Stars: Hannah Arterton, Clare Higgins, Rosie Day
Studio/Production Company: Vertical Entertainment
Run Time: 80 minutes