Madrid, in the seventeenth century. Abandoned at the doorstep of a monastery, Ambrosio has been brought up by the Capucin Friars. After becoming a friar himself, he becomes an unrivaled preacher whose sermons draw crowds and earn him the admiration of all. Admired for his extreme rigor and absolute virtue, Ambrosio is certain he is safe from any temptation. But Satan has not said his final word...
Director Dominik Moll makes some odd style choices – like Looney Tunes-style ‘iris wipes’ – and it’s a while before Cassel fully embraces his dark side, yet his customary charisma is what seals The Monk’s redemption.
Ambrosio’s curiously inert fall from grace generates neither sympathy nor suspense.
If you were hoping for a return to form for director Dominik Moll, your prayer has not been answered.
An austere, cerebral reading of a book which is unfettered, blood-bolstered and wildly sensationalist — Lewis is the father of torture porn, not a master of subtle chills. It’s interesting and unsettling, with a charismatic lead performance, but nowhere near as shocking as it should be.
An overwrought atmosphere, some nice aesthetic nods to classic horror cinema and the ever-watchable, if oddly subdued, Cassel aside, there’s little to dispel thoughts of this as a missed opportunity.
Moll’s film fails to compensate with a commensurate level of tension or even atmosphere.
It’s a dull B-movie with ideas above its station.
Moll's adaptation of Matthew Gregory Lewis's 18th-century novel is operatic in style and towering in ambition.
What a very strange film this is, so controlled and precise yet utterly outlandish in its conjuring of evil. Dan Brown should take a look, and ponder.
It is not a story of great depth or passion, but there are intriguing and unsettling moments on its well-crafted surface.
The surface chills, but what’s under merely underwhelms: like Moll’s whole stab at this fable of carnal knowledge, it needed more fleshing out.
The kind of film that works its magic after you leave the cinema.
Vincent Cassel, looking like a priest out of a Zurbarán painting, is a formidable presence, and the picture is atmospherically lit by Patrick Blossier, but it's a rather dull offering – tasteful horror for the carriage trade.
The underlying theme of retribution is clearly demonstrated, but frustratingly, the amorous additions and a bland substitution for the ideological speculations smother the film in clichéd outcomes.
Not Gothic enough.
Brother's gonna work it out
The Monk director Dominik Moll--interview
The Monk: interview with director Dominik Moll
General release. Check local listings for show times.