The Crucifixion Movie Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Released by Lionsgate
Directed by Xavier Gens
Written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes
2017, 90 minutes, Rated R
Sophie Cookson as Nicole Rawlins
Corneliu Ulici as Father Anton
Brittany Ashworth as Vaduva
Matthew Zajac as Bishop Gornik
Just like in some cheesy soap operas, the problem with some horror subgenres is that they can’t operate outside their correlation to those that precede them, those that are very obviously part of their narrative/filmic DNA. In the case of The Crucifixion, the problem is everything sticks way too close to that DNA and no new terrain gets explored.
When a young priest with a long list of exorcisms to his name is jailed and charged with the murder of a nun who died while he was performing an exorcism on her, journalist Nicole Rawlins ventures into the Romanian countryside to pursue the details of the bizarre story. She wants to explore the possibility of mental illness instead of demonic possession and all its ramifications. As Nicole interviews priests, other nuns, and parishioners in town, abnormal things start happening. Soon the story takes a backseat to the strange phenomena she’s experiencing, and what she’s going through is directly tied to the story of the dead nun.
Xavier Gens, who also directed Frontier(s), a very enjoyable film, knows his business. The man always delivers great shots, and that is again true in this film. In fact, besides being mercifully short, the one thing The Crucifixion has going for it is its visuals. Simply put, this is a movie that’s nice to look at. There are a few creepy scenes and some memorable images, too. Unfortunately, that’s where the good stops. I could offer you 3,000 words explaining why repetition means death for a film, but instead I’ll offer you a checklist of demonic possession narrative clichés and whether or not they appear in this movie:
- Troubled woman with a shaky/traumatic religious past? Check.
- Bugs crawling all over the place? Check.
- Exorcism scene with a lot of screaming? Check.
- Possessed young girl on the right side of attractive? Check.
- Sitting in bed like The Undertaker? Check.
- Flying/flipping furniture? Check.
- Overuse of religious paraphernalia in most scenes in a silly attempt at creating atmosphere? Check.
- Jump scares? Check.
- Inane religious discussion that contribute nothing to the subgenre? Check.
- Sexy dream with a religious figure/weird somewhat sexual scene involving the possessed? Check.
- “Based on true events”? Check.
I’ll stop there to add two longer comments. The first one is this: stop with the stupid woman-taking-a-bath-in-a-white-bathtub scenes. Three of the last four movies I’ve watched have it. Also, stop with the English-is-spoken-everywhere bullshit. Nicole goes to a small, remote place in Romania and is able to carry on conversations with everyone, including a farmer who says he speaks only a little and then tells a long story in English. Just stop it, please.
Moving on. The Crucifixion was co-written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes, the screenwriting twins behind The Conjuring series. They, much like Gens, are not new to the game, so I was expecting more from them. Instead of a memorable demonic possession film, I got a nice looking/good budget version of the same movie I’ve seen a hundred times. From the characters to their conversations and from the scenes to the routine jump scares, The Crucifixion brings nothing new to the table, and they had the writers, budget, and director to make something special.