The Parish Movie Review: And Then There Were Nun
With its cover art of a scary-looking nun, The Parish might remind you of movies from the Conjuring Cinematic Universe. Movies like The Conjuring 2. Or, you know, The Nun. But does it reach the spooky highs of the former? Or is it down somewhere with the that-sure-was-a-movie of the latter? Let’s talk about it in our review of the movie The Parish.
New Developments in The Parish: The Plot
image via Uncork’d Entertainment
After dad Jason Charles (Ray Tagavilla) dies in Afghanistan, mom Liz (Angela DiMarco) and daughter Audrey (Sanae Loutsis) move…somewhere. (They describe it as a thousand miles from San Diego, and Audrey namedrops Portland, so it’s somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.) Weirdly, despite the fact that the film is called The Parish, the exact town isn’t relevant to the plot. Well, at least the name isn’t.
Anyway, Liz’s friend Sandra (Sara Coates) lives there, so they already know one person. And there’s also a good Catholic school there overseen by Father Felix (Bill Oberst, Jr.), so Audrey is sure to make new friends soon. In fact, she does, bonding with Caleb (Lucas Oktay) over comic books. It is kind of weird that for such a big comic book fan, he’s never heard of Audrey’s favorites. Actually, he doesn’t seem to have heard of manga at all. Then again, it is a small (anonymous,) town.
But of course, that’s not the only thing odd about Audrey’s interactions with Caleb. And as the Charles family, what’s left of it, tries to settle into their new life, strange things keep happening. Jason haunts Liz’s dreams, as she keeps having nightmares about his grisly death. However, he also haunts Audrey in another way, giving her warnings about “the angry people.” Who are they and just what’s going on here in Townsville?
The Parish Movie Review
In some ways, this movie reminded me of some of the issues I raised in my Death Trip review. As with that film, there is a good movie here, a lot of potential, but unfortunately, the movie doesn’t make the most of it. Let’s start with the good stuff, though.
First of all, Angela DiMarco, whom I’d never seen before, is a fine actress. She’s believable and moving as a recent widow just trying to keep it together. In addition, she and veteran horror actor Oberst, Jr., work well together in their scenes. These scenes are the best part of the movie, and left me thinking that it would have worked better as a drama.
Because–and now we get to the less good stuff–it’s not a good horror movie. It’s not scary–ever–for one thing, and the horror plot is so slight that it feels grafted in from another movie entirely. It’s as if they meant to add in more and just…didn’t.
image via Uncork’d Entertainment
On that note, at one point, Father Felix, a veteran of Desert Storm, tells a compelling story about his own time in combat. It’s about how he was sure something was stalking them through the desert–a something, incidentally, that he believes he carried home. It’s a creepy story, something that could have added chilling layers to the prime plot. But then there’s nothing. They never mention it again. It’s similar to how the actual baddie in this film, scary nun Sister Beatrice (Gin Hammond), mostly appears throughout in brief glimpses. She doesn’t really join the story until like, the last ten minutes.
Further, in other less good stuff, while most of the performances were competent to good, there is one that’s an outlier. It’s jarring, the line readings playing as just that–reading the lines without the appropriate emotion. It’s a peculiar choice in a movie full of them.
The Bottom Line
Overall, this isn’t a bad movie. As I said, there’s a lot of potential here: some strong performances, a great score, and crisp cinematography. I also thought they did the best they could with the special effects, especially considering the (presumably low) budget. However, a predictable storyline and a lack of scares undoes all that good work. This is a solid drama about grief and faith. But it’s supposed to be a horror movie.
The Parish is now available on demand and on DVD.
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featured image via Uncork’d Entertainment
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.