Bless the Child

dir Chuck Russell
scr Tom Rickman, Clifford Green, Ellen Green
with Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Holliston Coleman, Rufus Sewell, Angela Bettis, Christina Ricci, Ian Holm, Dimitra Arlys, Michael Gaston, Lumi Cavazos, Eugene Lipinski, Anne Betancourt
Icon-Paramount 00/US 2 out of 5 stars

Review by Rich Cline
The Sixth Sense meets, erm, End of Days in another Satanic thriller in which everyone is after a child born under a certain star with the power to change humanity. Efficiently made hokum.

Maggie (Basinger) is a childless--and manless--career woman who discovers her maternal instincts when her junkie sister Jenna (Bettis) abandons her infant daughter. But this isn't just any baby, and by the time she's 6, Cody (Coleman) is being pursued by former child actor Eric Stark (Sewell), the creepy leader of a shadowy Satanic cult, who's now married to--you guessed it--Jenna. Enter a helpful FBI agent (Smits) on Stark's trail, a helpful ex-cult member (Ricci) and a helpful priest (Holm). And on the side of darkness we have a sinister Eastern European nanny (Arlys) and swarms of demonic teen henchmen who look like the original cast of Satan: The Musical, complete with costumes, makeup and choreography.

The script was probably OK before Hollywood test audiences got their hands on it. After a decent set-up, some good performances and a nicely creepy tone, the film just goes all apocalyptic on us, piling on the mumbo jumbo and getting very, very silly. All of the digital effects are unnecessary ... and ludicrous (especially an absurd vision of the Devil himself). In fact, the scariest thing about the film is watching it fall to pieces. But then that's rather entertaining in its own right.

[15--themes, violence, language] 19.Oct.00
US release 11.Aug.00; UK release 26.Jan.01

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall