The Reel Review
An American journalist investigating the death of an allegedly mentally ill young nun during an exorcism in Romania starts to wonder if the nun really was possessed by a demon – one with its sights set on her – in this horror/thriller loosely based on the real life story of the 2005 Tanacu Exorcism.
French director Xavier Gens (Cold Skin) injects the film with his now trademark, top notch production values and cinematography, showcasing the Romanian countryside and spooky old churches to set an authentically creepy mood. And he also does a nice job of balancing the frequent link between mental illness (in this case schizophrenia) and demonic possession. Oddly enough, it is the screenplay from Chad and Carey Hayes (The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2) that is the weakest link, as their attempt to shoehorn a fictional investigative reporter into the harrowing real life incident ends up feeling forced and often listless.
And while the mostly Romanian supporting cast lends The Crucifixion an air of authenticity, lead actress Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service) sadly does not. She’s just too youthful to be even remotely believable as a globe-trotting investigative journalist. Still, the film is worth a see, if for nothing else, just to enjoy the solid production and cinematography.
• The Tanacu Exorcism involved the 2005 death of an allegedly mentally ill nun, Maricica Irina Cornici, who had been chained to a cross without food and water for several days during an exorcism at the Tanacu monastery in Vaslui County, Romania. A coroner who exhumed Cornici’s body years later said her death was caused by an extreme overdose of adrenaline administered in the ambulance to the hospital.
• The Tanacu Exorcism also inspired the Cannes prize winning film Beyond The Hills from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.
• The Crucifixion was filmed on location in Biertan and Sighisoara, Romania and at Castel Film Studios in Bucharest.