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The Crucifixion (2017)

Lionsgate
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/5/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/22/2017

Director Xavier Gens first garnered attention with 2007's Frontier(s), an unimpressive entry into the wave of French horror movies which was appearing at that time. This clearly caught the eye of someone in Hollywood, as he was tapped to direct the video game adaptation Hitman, and the result was another disappointment. In 2011, Gens delivered The Divide, which showed some growth on his part, but was still not a great movie. Now, years later, Gens is back with another feature film. He continues to stay within a certain type of genre, but will The Crucifixion finally be a movie worth recommending?

When reporter Nicole Rawlins (Sophie Cookson) learns that a nun died during an apparent exorcism in a small town in Romania, she approaches her editor, Phil (Jeff Rawle), about covering the story. She travels to the town, hoping to get an interview with the priest who has now been accused of murder. After getting settled in, she meets Father Anton (Corneliu Ulici), a local holy man who gives her information about the area and his take on what happened with the nun. Nicole questions the locals and visits the church where the death occurred. As she continues her investigation, the mystery deepens and Nicole can’t help but wonder if something supernatural is happening.

Along for the ride with Gens are Screenwriters Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes, whose association with The Conjuring, is plastered all over the Blu-ray Disc box. Along with that overrated movie, they’ve been involved with some other stinkers like The Reaping, House of Wax and Whiteout. (Many of their movies are also shelved for a period before release.) With The Crucifixion, they’ve brought us another paint-by-numbers story, with this one being more episodic than most. This may be related to the editing, but there is no narrative flow in this movie. We simply watch Nicole go from one place to another talking to seemingly random characters or just walking around. The thread of Nicole attempting to learn what really happened when the nun died is always there, but it gets real frayed at times, she suddenly stops looking for a murder and starts looking for a demon. (I must admit that I get very sleepy while watching the movie, but the shift really comes out of nowhere.)

In fact, the movie doesn’t seem to know what it’s about. The only thing which is given any real depth is Nicole’s backstory, which explores why she lost her faith. (We get a similar character in The Reaping.) Other than that, it just meanders from one idea to another and is truly never interesting. The story is pedestrian to a fault. When makes the direction which Gens takes with the material even more odd. I guess in the intervening years since his last movie, Gens decided that he wanted to get back to the graphic material which first got him noticed. So, we get some quasi-disturbing shots scattered throughout the movie. A movie, I should mention, seems to forget that it’s a horror movie for the first act, as the jump scares suddenly arrive in the middle of the movie. I must say that a few of these are actually effective, but, like the gross-stuff, they seem out of place.

The horror movie genre has several sub-genres, one of which was essentially invented in 1973 with The Exorcist. And now any movie which features possession has to offer an elaborate exorcism scene. So, of course, The Crucifixion must have one and it's not very impressive (and it felt a lot like a similar scene in The Conjuring.) Of all of the frustrating things in this movie, number one may be the fact that it claims to be based on true events, but we are given no indication of what those may be. The Crucifixion is yet another modern horror movie which is well-acted, has some nice effects, but ultimately goes nowhere. If anything, it should have been a documentary on how lucky Nicole was to find every English-speaking person in Romania.

The Crucifixion made me wonder what kind of car Nicole had rented on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, and the image is never overly dark. The landscape shots show an impressive amount of depth, while we also get a good amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The jump scare are punctuated by very effective subwoofer effects. These moments are typically proceeded by dreamlike sequences in which we get a nice smattering of surround and stereo effects that bring us some moderately detailed sounds.

The Crucifixion Blu-ray Disc is quite short on extra features. "The Crucifixion: The Director's Vision" (7 minutes) is an interview with Gens which really should have been subtitled. He talks about how he got involved with the project and his approach to the material. The only other extra is a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long