Mike Mendez’s The Convent is a Last Stand in a Haunted House movie, and as such it has all the conventions of the horror subgenre, including: a dumb cheerleader, abusive frat boys, a virgin female lead, horny kids, and dumb cops. Add demonic nuns and priests and plenty of tongues firmly planted in cheek and you’d think you have a perfect formula for a Last Stand in a Haunted House movie, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
The Convent opens with a black leather-clad teenager shooting up a convent sometime in the ’60s. Fast-forward to the present, when a group of college frat boys, their dates, and one of their pledge decides it would be a great idea to vandalize the interior of the now-condemned convent. No sooner than the kids start necking, smoking pot, and getting harassed by the cops, do demonic nuns, complete with glowing green eyes and what looks like neon liquid in place of veins, pops up to do their, er, demonic thing.
I am hard pressed to find anything really good about The Convent, and would consider the movie a total waste of time except for the fact that it’s a pretty funny film. The movie is a complete parody of the Last Stand in a Haunted House subgenre, and as such I found myself laughing too much when I should be scared — or at the very least, intrigued. While others might appreciate the movie for its oddball hilarity, I was somewhat disappointed that the movie was too tongue-in-cheek, which meant there were no scenes of tension or even excitement.
The demonic nuns in The Convent, as previously mentioned, looks more like late-night ravers with a hangover and bad make-up than they do demons. What this means is they don’t look convincing, and director Mendez chose to cut out frames within scenes to give the impression of the demons shuffling awkwardly to and fro instead of lumbering or walking normally. I guess this could be considered creative, since there’s very little else to find creative about The Convent.
The script is written by newcomer Chaton Anderson, who I’m not quite sure is male or female. (Is “Chaton” a man’s name or a woman’s name?) Whatever the writer’s gender, I appreciated the comedy in the movie — it’s the only thing I appreciated, actually. In one particularly hilarious scene, after being informed that her virgin brother is going to be turned into a vessel for the son of Satan, our heroine Clarissa (Joanna Canton) sighs, “Mom’s gonna be pissed!” By simple reason that Clarissa is the female lead, she of course looks pure as snow and is the constant complainer of the group. It gets tiresome after a while.
In fact, the movie’s first 40 minutes was an exercise in cliché, as each clich’d character does and says one clich’ thing after another. Maybe director Mendez and writer Anderson sought to achieve this sense of “been there, done that, let’s do it again,” but I found it to be tedious and a waste of time.
When the demonic nuns show up and the blood started flowing, I expected things to pick up. I was disappointed. As a result, the entire film felt tedious and a waste of time. It’s a funny waste of time, but still a waste of time.
Mike Mendez (director) / Chaton Anderson (screenplay)
CAST: Joanna Canton …. Clarissa
Richard Trapp …. Frijole
Dax Miller …. Chad
Ren’e Graham …. Kaitlin
Liam Kyle Sullivan …. Brant