The Communion Girl (2022)
Director: Victor Garcia
Screenwriter: Guillem Clua
Starring: Carla Champra, Aina Quiñonez, Marc Soler, Carlos Oviedo, Olimpia Roch, Maria Molins
The Communion Girl is now streaming on Shudder. All the way from Spain. Though it could have come from the USA, in the 1980s, on something direct-to-video, because when all is said and done there’s not much difference aside from camera quality to separate it from anything else. There’s a missing girl, a haunted doll, and the spirit of this girl seeks to kill a group of teenagers that find the doll in the middle of the woods on their way home from the club. Or something like that. It isn’t 100% clear a lot of the time.
If you already have a picture in your mind of the type of film this might be, and think you’ve seen it before, that’s because you have. There are some cultural differences, such as an emphasis placed on Catholicism, which is still very much an important part of modern Spain, but everything else is cut and paste from inside your head. There’s at least one male teenage character that you want dead immediately, there’s the old ‘push the bathroom mirror back into place to reveal the ghost behind’ gimmick. It’s all here.
There is a little influence from Japanese horror films, especially Ringu (1998), with a well as a key location and a degree of importance placed on water in general, which is very prevalent in Asian ghost folklore and cinema. And there’s a moment or two that is reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Once or twice, this comes together to give a nice little chill and thrill, a well-timed jump that doesn’t have its potential completely wasted.
One of the key issues with The Communion Girl is the pacing of its script. Although these films shouldn’t always follow a formula, if you’re not trying to break it you should at least measure out your basic three acts nicely. Ghost/slasher films of this variety have their three acts in this rough pattern – Act 1: unleashing the spirit. Act 2: Several die and the mystery unfolds. Act 3: The race to quell the spirit. This film’s issue is that Act 1 takes up at least half of the film, if not a few minutes over.
As a result, the second act must cram in so much stuff. Everything devolves into one or two locations with outrageous jumpscare sequences that don’t have time to build up or breathe. Where it could have played it with subtlety and suspense, its writing forces it to fall back on quick advancement purely to get everything done and out of the way so we can have our finale.
There’s too much time in the first half focused on family dynamics and getting grounded for drugs and being annoyed at everyone that the main thread of the story gets sidelined. This integration of the normal world and the horror world needed to be stronger, each one playing off the other organically and seamlessly, the horror highlighting family issues, social problems feeding into the horror. That, however, would have been too sophisticated for this film. It’s here to do what it says on the tin. Give a few ghost scares in a short space of time, under 100 minutes including credits, and clear out again as quickly as it can.
If that’s all your after, it’s not awful. If you want something fresh, something that tries to change up the rules and take you somewhere you’ve never been before, you’re going to be left seriously wanting.
The Communion Girl has an ending with a setup for a sequel which should never come. It’s pointless, and it tries to give the film a big twist and new revelation but fails because there was no proper setup and nobody cares. It’s also stupid. It feels tacked on at the end, just like this paragraph.