The Convent (2000) — Working out some Catholic guilt

“Damn demons, it’s always something with a virgin!”

Bobby’s rating: Give the girls a chainsaw and get the h*ll out of their way.

Bobby’s review: How did we overlook this? Oh, all you mutants who have missed this, my heart aches for you. I can picture you, going to the video store, passing this up in favor of some independent film or blockbuster. Glancing at the cover — not quite cheezy enough, but not quality either — and you pass it up. Oh ye of little faith, The Convent is the sort of movie that cult movie review sites were made for. I mean, WOW!

Okay… where to start? First off, I don’t tend to like horror flicks or slasher films (and yet most of my reviews to date have been of these… hmmm, something to ponder later). But this one won me over! It has hot cheerleaders, attractive jocks, a cute goth girl, and a main character whose name is Clarissa (and as a Clarissa, it’s nice to have a role model besides the annoying Clarissa from that Nickelodeon show…what was the name of that again?), a haunted convent, gay Satan worshipers, chants to the tune of “Silver Bells”, virgins, a dog, nuns getting set on fire, demons, blacklights… Stop and breathe, in out, in out… I think I’m okay now.

This movie is an independent, written and directed by post-Catholic school students, which might help explain the first scene. It’s 1960 and an attractive female (Christine) steps out of her car with a shotgun and a can of gasoline. She walks into the convent and precedes to blow away all the nuns and then set fire to them to the tune of “You Don’t Own Me.” Then we jump ahead 40 years to 2000, where said convent is deserted, closed down after “the event” and the stuff of late night ghost stories and urban legends. As with all great haunted sites, there are always people trying to get in, either to have some alone time with the opposite sex, or to vandalize it, or even to conduct strange sacrifices.

This year a group of students attempts to spray their school letters on the convent’s tower, only to be interrupted by the local cops (Coolio in a HILARIOUS role!). Cute goth girl is left behind, and becomes an unwilling participant in a satanic rite to raise some demons. The local coven (led by Saul and his ever-present assistant “Dickie Boy”) are more successful than they could have imagined and a “big bad” shows up and begins a killing spree. As in Evil Dead, the demons are able to inhabit the recently dead, so as the death count rises, so does the number of icky demons wandering about.

The demons are incredibly well done. While not necessarily big budget, the jerky movements and strangely glowing veins creeped me out more than enough, as did the blood shower (why didn’t she just move out of the way?) and various mutilations including head smashing, beheading and an eyeball scene better left to the imagination.

Who can help the helpless/hapless teenagers? How about the only person to ever successfully battle the evil? That’s right, Christine, (played by the cult star Adrienne Barbeau) the heroine of 40 years ago and now quite jaded to stupid teenagers who keep getting themselves in trouble. And thus ensues some amazing ass kicking, demon slashing action. Put them and Ash together, and the other side wouldn’t stand a chance.

Are you still reading this review? Why haven’t you run off and rented this yet? You won’t be disappointed. I gave it an offensiveness rating of 5 because it is a bit gory and would probably be very offensive to very religious people, but the movie is meant to be fun. Personally, I watched it two times in the space of four hours.

Didja notice?

  • Chicken Heads are scary.
  • Dickie Boy is played by an actress
  • The jerky movement of the demons are created by cutting out every other frame and piecing it together (as they did in House on Haunted Hill).
  • Embarrassing Goth pictures of you have a way of resurfacing
  • Okay, these kids get freaked out before they even leave their own street. What wussies.
  • Coolio’s hair and head reminds me of a turnip
  • Okay, that dog is pretty darn cute
  • Hehe… porta potties talking to each other… great voice-overs!
  • Wow, that was the dorkiest entrance EVER for a vamp-wannabe. This guy is so over-the-top pathetic, he’s my new hero.
  • Mo doesn’t really put up a struggle during the ceremony
  • Flying thongs and talking crucifixes — this is why you don’t do drugs, kids.
  • People don’t really react quickly to things here: the girl doesn’t move out of the way of the five minute blood shower, and the nerd doesn’t take off his blindfold or move away when he’s being hit
  • This town only has one street, two houses, a coffeshop, and the convent
  • The nuns wheel the two tied up boys down the hall at the rate of one inch per hour… I don’t think it’s possible for them to be slower
  • The girls say they’re out of bullets, but Christine wears a bandoleer of shotgun shells… huh?

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