As always with whatever the boss throws my way to review, I make a point to know as little as possible about the film, I find this makes for better, unbiased viewing.
First of all, I wouldn’t say that the The Monk is a straight up horror film, but it certainly has horror elements. What The Monk IS, however, is a dark thriller which I have to say, had me spellbound for the duration. It has to be one of the most compelling religious thrillers I’ve ever seen.
Adapted from a 1796 gothic novel written by English author Matthew Lewis, The Monk is a French/Spanish film directed by Dominik Moll. The film stars Vincent Cassel (Irreversible, Black Swan) as Ambrosio, Deborah Francois as Matilda and Josephine Japy as Antonia.
Check out the synopsis below,
Abandoned as a baby on the steps of a monastery and raised in strict Capuchin fashion, Ambrosio has become the most famous preacher in the country. While large crowds from all over the country come to hear his mesmerizing sermons, he’s also bitterly envied for his success by certain fellow monks.
Convinced of his virtue and righteousness, Brother Ambrosio thinks he is immune to temptation until obscure events start terrorizing the monastery. Could they be connected to the unexpected arrival of Valerio, an apprentice monk who has the miraculous gift to relieve Ambrosio’s splitting headaches and hides his disfigured face under a wax mask?
Vincent Cassel’s potrayal of Capuchin Ambrosio is sublime, The character unravels through the film and Cassel nails the downfall and the loss of this man’s sanity right on the head. He never smiles once in the full film. Ambrosio is deadly serious and not a man who suffers fools gladly. He is bitter toward fellow monks and nuns for their sinning and looks upon them with a great disgust and shame. His faith is not wavered in the slightest…until the devil starts getting involved.
It’s at this point that the film really takes off as it takes a creepy turn and the plot darkens. I would even say that I got a Shakespearean vibe from the last hour, which features a lot of very powerful dramatic twists and turns. The religious imagery used is very haunting. Visually, The Monk is a gothic treat with a fantastic medieval setting.
I loved the introduction of Valerio, a stranger who wants to join the monastery to be closer to God. The stranger has to wear a mask to cover burns and scars as a result of a house fire. Ambrosio becomes intrigued by this stranger, while Valerio is able to heal Ambrosio’s terrible recurring headaches. The more the two interact, the more Ambrosio starts unravelling.
The Monk is a great watch. It is based around the temptations of a man’s faith by the trickery of Satan. There are a lot of Good versus Evil aspects. It is a very dramatic film, almost like watching a play, which I have to say, isn’t a bad thing at all. I highly recommend this if you’re in the mood for a dark, dramatic, religious stand-off.
The Monk is released on UK DVD on August 20th via Metrodome Distribution.