Actor turned director David S. Hogan gives us a C-movie that looks every inch an A-picture with “The Parish.” It may be that latest remix of a worn-out formula, with a “mystery” we’re two or three steps ahead of, first scene to last. But it has the sheen of major studio release, a decent performance or two and modest but effective effects.
Frights? Not really. How one manages to make a movie this dull centering on an alarming nun, when they’ve been horror icons since before “The Sound of Music,” is kind of a feat in its own right.
Liz (Angela DiMarco) and daughter Audrey (Sanae Loutsis) have moved “a thousand miles from San Diego” for a new start, a town where Liz’s pal from college (Sara Coates) is a realtor.
They’re getting over a loss. Husband Jason was killed in Afghanistan, and mother and daughter are still seeing him (Ray Tagavilla) in their nightmares. What’s he saying? Is he warning them?
A new house, new Catholic school and new drinking buddy for mom to empty wine bottles with should do the trick.
But “art therapy” isn’t doing anything to change sullen Audrey’s “I HATE it here.” It’s just creeping Liz and the kid’s teachers out.
At least she’s made a new friend, Caleb, another loner and “new kid.” But as Liz tracks Caleb down some stairs and never finds him, as she runs into a hulking mute janitor and then “Sister Beatrice (Gin Hammond), school folks start wondering about the kid, and then about her mother.
And you can guess why.
Horror veteran Bill Oberst Jr. (“Tickles the Clown”) is the parish priest who may have some answers.
But the questions the viewer asks aren’t just related to the story, which as I say, we figure out before any character does.
It’s a picture with a dead spouse and a family in mourning and little sense of pathos. Every character is a trope of some sort, most of them dating to the origins of the genre. And while most of the performances are at least OK, one is bad enough to make you wince.
“The Parish” needed to be more Catholic, more creepy and have a lot more suspense and sense of what’s at stake to come off.
MPA Rating: unrated, horrific images, blood
Cast: Angela DiMarco, Sanae Loutsis, Bill Oberst Jr. , Ray Tagavilla, Sara Coates, Amber Wolfe Wollam and Gin Hammond.
Credits: Directed by David S. Hogan, script by Todd Downing. An Uncork’d release.
Running time: 1:22