The Convent

The Convent (2000)
Trimark Home Video
Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Joanna Canton
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scene, Featurette

Once again, we are presented with a horror film, which some fans are praising as the ’kick-ass’ frighfest which we’ve all been waiting for. And once again, disappointment rears its ugly head. ’The Convent’ is a fun film (viewed in the right frame-of-mind), clearly made by horror fans, but in the end, it is simply too derivative to be noteworthy. The action begins in 1960, as we witness a young woman murdering nuns and a priest in a convent, and then setting the building on fire. Jump ahead, twenty years, as a group of college kids enter the now abandoned convent to perform a fraternity prank. Unbeknownst to them, a collection of amateur Satanists are also in the building, and their misguided ritual unleashes the evil forces which reside in the convent. Soon, the unfortunate youngsters are being possessed by demonic spirits, who have a taste for blood. The only hope for survival is Christine (Adrienne Barbeau), the women who torched the convent all those years ago.

While some may find ’The Convent’ a blast, the movie will seem overly familiar to horror fans. Playing as equal parts ’Night of the Demons 2’, ’The Church’, and the ’Goth Talk’ skit from ’Saturday Night Live’, ’The Convent’ brings nothing new to the table. To make up for these shortcomings (and the low budget) director Mike Mendez has chosen to shoot the attack scenes in a hyper-realistic fashion, giving the film some kinetic energy. Also, the day-glow demonic make-up is somewhat unique. And with a running time of a little over 75 minutes, the film comes and goes very quickly. Still, it’s very predictable and the attempts at humor seem oddly out of place. ’The Convent’ is a nice attempt at making a cult-horror classic, but winds up as a homage to other, better films.

Trimark Home Video brings ’The Convent’ to DVD. The film is has been letterboxed at 1.85:1, but is not even enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, but lacks definition and shows some grain during the daytime scenes. The colors are good, especially when showing the glowing, demonic make-up. There is some artifacting present, but otherwise the transfer is fine. As odd as this may sound, the Dolby Digital 5.1 channel audio track actually has too much surround sound! There is constant audio streaming from the rear speakers and this can make the center channel dialogue hard to hear at times. Still, some of the surround effects are quite good and the bass response was above average. Do note that the French 2.0 track listed on the box is not on the DVD.

There are two audio commentaries on this disc. The production commentary features director Mendez, actors Megan Perry and Laim Sullivan and composer Joseph Bishara. This is a fun commentary, giving many great anecdotes about the making of the film. The other commentary features actors David Gunn and Kelly Mantle in character as Saul and Dickie Boy. This talk is just weird and doesn’t reveal much new info. There is an 8-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, made up mostly of interviews, which gives great insight into the genesis of the film. The extras are rounded out by one brief deleted scene.