The Crucifixion (2017) Review

The Crucifixion centres on Nicole Rawlins (Sophie Cookson), a young and eager New York Sentinel journalist who wants to pursue a story about the murder of a nun related to exorcism. During her investigation, she begins to experience a strange case of unexplained phenomena.

It has been ten years since French director Xavier Gens hit a breakthrough with the ultra-violent horror thriller, Frontier(s). But since then, his subsequent directorial efforts were mostly drawing blanks (remember Hitman?). In his latest movie called The Crucifixion, it looks as if he made the right choice. Besides, the movie is written by Chad and Carey W. Hayes, best known for their screenwriting duties in the two Conjuring movies. Unfortunately, if you are expecting The Conjuring-type of fright flick, you might as well look elsewhere. Instead, Gens and the two screenwriters did the impossible: turning this so-called exorcism thriller into a shockingly dull piece of work.

Let’s start with the story. According to the disclaimer during the opening credits, the movie is “inspired by actual events”. Actual events or not, it hardly matters anyway. Chad and Carey W. Hayes’ screenplay is as awfully generic as it goes. The word “cliché” is best described here, complete with an exposition-heavy storyline that spends too much time setting up Sophie Cookson’s main protagonist role as an investigative journalist who tries to find out whether or not the accused priest is guilty of an unofficial exorcism. Now, I don’t mind if the movie wanted to focus more on the elaborate investigation parts. But even so, the story generates little intrigue and all we get is both preachy and tedious debates about religion, faith and exorcism.

As for Gens, his direction is flat and uninspired. His sense of pacing is also off, with the movie’s supposedly lean 90-minute length feels like it’s slogging forever. There is a few jump scares popped up every now and then, but Gens seems to forget how to make them scary.

The cast is equally disappointing. Sophie Cookson is fairly wasted in her first leading role as Nicole Rawlins. It’s a far cry from what she did in the past, as evidently seen in her solid supporting roles that include Kingsman: The Secret Service and Netflix’s lesbian drama, Gypsy. Even her chemistry with Corneliu Ulici’s Father Anton generates zero sparks. No doubt that Cookson deserves better than being relegated to such a thankless role.

In the end, The Crucifixion reminds me more of the similarly god-awful The Reaping, which also happens to be a religious-themed horror written by Chad and Carey W. Hayes.

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