JULY 22, 2007
SOURCE: DVD (ONLINE RENTAL)
Why does every single movie about a priest who goes around disproving miracles have to begin with him in some third world country? Don’t folks in big cities make shit up too? Stigmata follows suit, but at least we are spared the “This is fake, I am going home to get a new assignment that will turn out to be a genuine miracle” sequence of events. He finds the real one right away!
It is in this sequence (before the most annoying credit sequence in cinematic history, which is like a music video edited on a broken Avid) that we see a quick photograph that apparently is meaningless. But since one of the people in the photo is Rade Sherbedgia, character actor extraordinaire and archenemy of spell check, you know that the photo is foreshadowing something bad.
But that’s part of the problem with this movie: Rade finally shows up with like 15 minutes left to go. Oddly, the film was directed by Rupert Wainwright (how amazing would it be if it was actually Rufus Wainwright? The "Hallelujah" usage alone would be worth every cent of the budget), who did the same thing with Rade in The Fog. It should be a rule that any actor who never appears in a film prior to the halfway point should not be billed at the beginning. I had the same problem with Saw. It was obvious the film was just about over, and there was still no sign of the promised Tobin Bell. It’s a distraction, and it sort of condemns you for actually reading the credits.
So when the guy with all the explanations and ties to the ‘villain’ doesn’t show up until the last reel, what the hell comes before it, you might ask? Simple: lots and lots of the same types of scenes, repeating over and over. Patricia Arquette goes about her normal business, Gabriel Byrne goes about his, suddenly Arquette screams and blood begins to pour from her (feet, hands, head, or back), and Byrne comes to her rescue. We watch over an hour of this before the story itself actually kicks in, almost as an afterthought.
Luckily, Wainwright can actually direct (or gives enough trust to DP Jeff Kimball), so the film is at least interesting to look at. But therein lays the problem with almost all religious based horror movies: they are so interested in supplying the viewer with striking imagery that they forget to put a story in. There should be another rule: for every Dutch angled shot of a crucifix, we get a line or two about what the fuck is going on.
And while we’re at it, how about a third rule: No film should cast Patrick Muldoon unless a giant “Brain Bug” brutally kills his character and then sucks his brain out.
The DVD has a theoretical nice set of features, including an alternate ending (one you can use the oft-maligned ‘seamless’ branching option to watch along with the rest of the movie). But the difference is obvious (she lives in the theatrical ending, so…), and doesn’t really change the meaning of the story (which is actually pretty damn interesting, when it's actually being implemented), so you can probably skip it. There’s also some other deleteds that are also mostly useless, except for a great discarded opening, and a thoroughly boring commentary.
All in all, not a bad film, just an overlong one. With the worst soundtrack ever recorded/assembled. But with Byrne as the least likely-to-be-a-child-molester priest in cinematic history, it makes a great double feature with End of Days.
What say you?