South Carolina screenwriter and director Tommy Faircloth’s fifth feature is an expertly staged and richly-shot double-homage to the ‘70s European Nunsploitation cycle (Santanico Pandemonium, The Other Hell) and Spain’s Amando de Ossorio’s* early-‘70s “Blind Dead” quartet of films (that ended with Night of the Seagulls). In Ossorio’s universe: sexually promiscuous, road weary travelers are always stumbling into some piece of abandoned, local architecture connected to an urban legend.
Accordingly, we have four requisite dumb travelers—two sisters: one bitchy, one a pseudo-creepy bookworm, and two guys: one a piggish boyfriend and one a hapless dork who wishes he was—who do all the things we expect: losing car keys, looking for shelter from a storm, always having sex on their minds, telling bad dick jokes, toilet humor and, since this is the 21st century: their cellphones have no signals.
Of course, one person in the group—in this case, Ashley-Kae the bookroom (Erika Edwards, an accomplished cinematographer and editor in her own right; she runs Honey Head Films with actress Kristi Ray; who plays her sister Gabby)—knows all the local history about the abandoned brick church they’ve taken a detour at on their way to her family’s vacation home. And she’s haunted-fascinated by her childhood nightmares of nuns—the infamous Sister Monday (Felissa Rose of Sleepaway Camp fame) in particular, who had a penchant for killing inmates of the neighboring prison . . . just on the other side of those woods.
Yep. Just like the de Ossorio films of old, these dumb travelers resurrect the ghost of Sister Monday—complete with a nice, sharp dagger sheathed inside that large, wooden crucifix she hip slings. (And that testicle-removal-by-holy dagger is a pisser!) (I would have enjoyed some prisoner or priest zoms digging themselves out of the church and prison graveyard—but that’s not a problem with the film, just my sick, twisted nostalgia getting in the way.)
Award-winning indie-horror craftsman Tommy Faircloth got his start in the business like most writer/directors (such as Frank Darabont of The Green Mile and The Mist): as a production assistant on mainstream Hollywood films; Faircloth worked on Die Hard 2, the Danny DeVito-starring Renaissance Man, and the James Caan-starring football drama, The Program.
He made his debut proper with the 1996 horror-parody Crinoline Head and followed up with the direct-to-video efforts Generation Ax (2001), the serious-sequel to Crinoline Head: Dollface (2014), and Family Possession (2016; which also stars Felissa Rose and Erika Edwards). A testament to Faircloth’s ever-improving career: A Nun’s Curse won the “Best Writing in a Feature” at last October’s Nightmare Film Festival and Reedy Reels Film Festival for Faircloth’s Horsecreek Productions.
A Nun’s Curse proves Faircloth has a very promising career as a new voice in horror that’s on par with the horror works of the bigger-budgeted studios A24 and Blumhouse. He knows how to move a camera with an Argentoesque atmospheric ease through the dilapidated corridors. I look forward to his next work, will go back to his earlier works, and hope for a sequel on the exploits of Sister Monday.
A Nun’s Curse is available from Uncork’d Entertainment on all online streaming and PPV platforms in the U.S on May 12. If you’d like a DVD copy: all North American Walmart locations will have it in stores on May 19. You can also visit Uncork’d on Facebook for the latest news on their releases and find more specific information about A Nun’s Curse on Facebook. And we are diggin’ on the end credits’ nu-metal tune by The Lumberjacks!
* Did you hear the story about the debut picture from de Ossorio’s “Blind Dead” series, Tombs of the Blind Dead, being re-edited into a bogus Planet of the Apes sequel? It ran in U.S Drive-Ins in 1978. True story. We reviewed it as part of our “Ape Week.”
Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR department. As always: you know that has nothing to do with our feelings on the movie.