There’s always room for another adaptation of Matthew Lewis’s 1795 scandal-igniting ur-Gothic novel, and this lavish French turn positively seethes with the strain of Christian sex-dread and debauchery. Vincent Cassel makes for a tightly coiled Brother Ambrosio, the famously devout Capuchin whose confrontations with a hot wayward witch, a beautiful virgin, a slatternly nun and a poisonous garden centipede eventually lead him to Satan-assisted rape, murder and worse. The sense of old-school piety as lust under inhuman pressure is juicy and polished, if a little earnest about spiritual conflict and too entranced with its LOTR-ish medieval trappings. In fact, as monksploitation goes, Dominik Moll’s film is sober and straight when it should be crazy and hot-blooded.
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