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Desecration   B+

Image Entertainment

Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Dante Tomaselli
Writer: Dante Tomaselli
Cast: Irma St. Paule, Danny Lopes, Christie Sanford, Salvatore Paul Piro, Vincent Lamberti.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Desecration isn't a film interested in weaving a coherent narrative. Written and directed by Dante Tomaselli, one of horror's most intriguing new talents, it's mainly concerned with sustaining a thick, creepy atmosphere (a la Dario Argento) that gets under your skin whether you understand what's happening or not. With a deft command of wickedly frightening imagery, Tomaselli has created a veritable nightmare on film.

In the movie, 16-year-old Catholic schoolboy Bobby (Danny Lopes) accidentally kills a nun, which sparks a series of weird events that have something to do with his long-dead mother. The further the movie goes, the more surreal and unsettling it becomes. There's a shot of a faceless nun walking slowly across a courtyard, seen from a window above, that I doubt I'll ever forget. Honestly, nuns have never been scarier. There are moments here that are truly bloodcurdling (like the scene in which a nun is attacked by a pair of scissors) as well as scenes that achieve a haunting power with a wee bit more subtlety. The film is marred by a few amateurish performances, but such flaws don't do too much damage to what remains a chilling and mesmerizing experience. It reminded me of how much fun it can be to turn out the lights, pop in a horror flick, and get scared senseless. Okay, so maybe Desecration didn't scare me senseless. It did scare me, though, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Dante Tomaselli's next film, Horror, hasn't been released yet, but based on the trailer and info at www.horrorthemovie.com it looks like it may be even more visually striking and terrifying than his debut. Horror fans, take note -- there's a new guy in town who knows what he's doing.

Review published 09.13.2002.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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