Set in 17th century Spain, 'The Monk' opened to stunning visuals as we see the story of 'Ambrosio' [Vincent Cassel] unfold. As a new-born baby, his mother leaves him outside of a convent and he is almost pecked to death by crows. In the nick of time, the doors open and the child is welcomed into the monastery, seen as a gift from God by the kind monks...
As Ambrosio becomes man, he eventually becomes a locally famous preacher, with people flocking to the monastery to hear his inspirational words. One day, a teenager arrives at the convent asking to join the community, claiming the need to feel closer to God after becoming disfigured in a horrendous fire. Nobody can see his face, as the creepy child bears a 'Michael Myers'-style Halloween mask made out of wax.
Something is clearly up with the kid and viewers are not kept in suspense for too long, as we find out that he is actually a woman called 'Matilda'. We soon discover that 'Matilda' was attracted from faraway lands by 'Ambrosio's virtue, as she wants to destroy it – because she is some sort of satanic witch. The witch then goes on a mission to teach the pure monk about the temptations of the flesh.
From this point, the film goes down a straight line heading directly to the moral destruction and eventual demise of this once-righteous man. Like a virgin (literally), once 'Matilda' forces him to break his vows of fidelity, we follow a tragic road that sees this once-virtuous man fall from his pedestal and towards the depths of hell.
'Ambrosio' is almost possessed, attacking women and eventually becoming a murderer. However, in a shocking twist, once the saint-turned-sinner discovers the identity of his victim of death, he descents into madness. The end of the film takes us to the deserts of Catalonia, where we see a dying 'Ambrosio' sell his soul to the Devil in exchange for his victim finding peace. The only deal the Devil has it that he cannot repent for the loss of his soul.
'The Monk' explored lust, temptation, death, life and the battle between good and evil to the deepest extent – no layers were left unwrapped. With the film ending just as disturbingly as it started, you are guaranteed to leave the theatre completely creeped out.
'The Monk' is out in cinemas now.
Words: Maz Khan (@MazHalima)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)