Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
A little girl is murdered, and everyone in her Catholic community starts accusing her black sheep, asocial sister, Alice. Alice's grief-struck mother, Catherine, has to try to cope, but if Alice isn't the killer, then who is?
Set in the nostalgic Seventies, this film tells the story of a house filled with a sinister presence. From grotesque wax dummies to a doll that once belonged to a drowned child, everything within the house is evil and haunted.
"Desecration" is a psychological chiller about a beyond-the-grave relationship between a teenage boy and his long-dead mother. Bobby, a 16-year-old loner, has been emotionally damaged by his mother's early death and a repressive Catholic upbringing. The boy accidentally causes a nun's death, triggering a chain of supernatural events and violent mayhem that leads Bobby into Hell to confront his mother. Powerful childhood demons are exorcised and unleashed as the gates of Hell open in this gripping, hallucinatory film. Written by
An effectively unsettling, surreal, hallucinatory, and imaginative experience
I stumbled across Desecration quite by accident, finding the cover artwork captivating. The four paintings of a nun takes on a Lovecraftian feel and the viewer should get a good idea that the horror film contained inside will be more of a cerebral experience than a direct Hollywood one. I liked that clue, because I was in a mindset to see something very different. I wasn't disappointed!
There are so many words that went through my mind watching this tale of a boy struggling to figure out what is happening around him at a catholic school and the accidental death of a nun: Unsettling, surreal, hallucinatory, atmospheric, disturbing, eerie....words that wound up being on the DVDs back cover in quotes and film summary! (I never read the summaries or critical quotes before a viewing so I can come up with my own idea of the film first) One thing is for sure, the viewer will be left with a deep sense of unease. I found myself sitting back for a while, thinking some of the opening was a bit low budget (fog and mist tends to come from a specific point off camera), then part of the way through I was sitting up, then leaning forward by the end of the film, entranced.
There are no direct answers to the story, as Bobby and even his grandmother find that they cannot do much about the supernatural goings-on since they are not sure what is real or not. This is apparent as the grandmother asks a couple times "What do I do NOW?...." but the occurrences seem to throw her off every time. Bobby can't tell if he is dreaming half the time and winds up running away, only to be faced at every turn by a nun that has the most creepy expression. Be careful to take a good look at the nun who is accidentally killed in the film's opening...she seems to have an eerie resemblance to Bobby's dead mother. A scene where Bobby's father and grandmother pass the nun on a road really creeped me out!
Writer/director Dante Tomaselli seemed to have a lot going on creatively for the film's story and visuals. What the film may lack technically because of budget limitations it more than makes up for in ambition and style. Much of the film could easily be made into stills that would hold up on their own as bizarre paintings--the sequence in which earth and plants take over Bobby's room seem to be inspired by Dali (who's name appears in the thank-you's in the end credits). The use of clowns together with nuns as horrifying creatures is a wonderful blend.
The creative process for Desecration is one I'd love to learn more about, as Tomaselli thanks people such as Marc Almond, Ric Ocasek, Laurie Anderson, Martin Gore, and Dario Argento in the credits. One big mention in the opening credits is a "special thanks to Alfred Sole," director of Alice, Sweet Alice (aka Communion). After watching Desecration I was hungry to find out how these artists influenced Tomaselli.
This is definitely not an easy film to experience. The story keeps jumping from one weird scene to another and the ending just APPEARS right when you think something might happen to explain more. All I can gather is that when someone wants to get out of Hell that person will do practically anything! This is not standard horror fare for people looking for cheap and fast thrills, it's a psychological challenge and worth the 88-minute hold it will have on you!
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