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Movie Reviews

Bless the Child

If you glanced briefly at "Bless the Child," you might get the impression that this film venerates and glorifies the Catholic Church. After all, "Bless the Child" depicts a battle between our Lord and Satan, but with the Catholic Church standing in for Christianity in much the same way America stands in for the world when our planet is menaced by cinematic aliens. Indeed, Kim Basinger's main character is perfect except for one near-fatal flaw: she, unlike all the rest of the good characters, does not accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, or the Catholic Church as the proper way to worship Him.

But if you actually sit down to watch this film, you'll realize just how anti-Catholic it really is — unless you feel that the proper way to venerate and glorify the Catholic Church is by lashing together a ludicrous mishmash of hoary religious-horror cliches, laughably improbable plot points and meaningless, ponderous dialogue and wishing it were a summer blockbuster. However you feel about Catholicism, any religion that inspired the Sistine Chapel can and should do better.

This flick isn't really about a battle between good and evil so much as a battle between the dense and the very dense, as any viewer with half a brain will quickly discern. Kim Basinger's character has to be the stupidest horror-movie heroine in many a year, as she consistently ignores signs that perhaps her niece Cody is a bit different that other kids, like when she lights about a hundred devotional candles telekinetically and causes the statue of Mary to cry. It's a good thing for Cody that the actress playing her, eight-year-old Holliston Coleman, displays the most assured and acute intelligence in the film.

Cody's gifts, which also include spinning plates and healing dead birds, are not lost on Rufus Sewell, playing Eric Stark with an effective lunkheadedness. Stark is the leader of a Scientologist-esque organization called New Dawn, which claims to provide spiritual surcease for its members but (prepare for subtle message) actually trains its minions to abandon our Lord and his teachings and settle down to the good life of wearing all black, killing strangers and worshipping Satan. A conflict, as you might, imagine, ensues.

None of the actors do anything much to embarrass themselves, although Basinger's perfectness is a bit grating. It doesn't matter, though, since everything is lost to the simultaneous assault of cliche and improbability. Sixteenth-century runes, ancient mystic scrolls, telltale scars, priests who know more than they'll say, supposedly intimidating incantations in Hebrew — they're all here, and they've all been somewhere else recently (many in "End of Days," which this film resembles except for its lack of a Schwarzenegger and any entertainment value). The film also includes the obligatory, repetitive "the Devil is your friend" dialogue, which sounds oddly passionless and tired here — if you want people to believe the Prince of Darkness is their best buddy, you have to act like you mean it.

To mix things up a bit, the filmmakers throw in plot points that defy all common sense, such as when Stark decides to let Cody take a break from his informational sessions about the Devil's virtues and go, apparently unsupervised, to the dentist, which of course is Basinger & Co.'s Window of Opportunity. Etc. Of course, like everything that happens in this film, this event is telegraphed so heavily that even someone strung-out on incense will have seen it coming a mile away. The one good thing about this film is its gorgeous score, by Christopher Young, but a gorgeous score doth not a film salvage.

Just stay the heck away from "Bless the Child," and if you happen to pass a theater at the local cineplex that's showing it, pray to whatever God you believe in for the people inside. They'll need it.

 

All this tasty writing ©2002-11 by Andrew Lindemann Malone. All rights reserved.