Kim Basinger takes on
a devilish movie
that bores us silly
"Bless the Child"
Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla
(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)
When you're a Roman Catholic, you can go to an occult-oriented movie with a certain degree of smugness. After all, nobody knows the Devil like us Catholics. We've got the exorcisms to prove it.
Hollywood knows this. Therefore, a whole lot of their devil flicks are liberally steeped in what I call the Catholic experience. Lots of statues, paintings of Christ's agony, aging priests (often with deformities or disabilities) and a whole lot of gobbledygook about how the world will end. I, being Catholic born and Catholic bred, love every minute of it, although I can't possibly imagine my old high school guidance counselor Father Campanella taking on Satan mano a mano. It's just too much of a stretch.
In this one, Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) is minding her own business one night when her junkie sister (Angela Bettis) shows up on her doorstep, newborn baby in hand. And before you can say "Whaaaasssssuppppppp?" she's gone, leaving Maggie with the baby. Of course, everyone who's ever seen an occult flick before knows that this is Not An Ordinary Child.
Years later, the NAOC (Holliston Coleman) is displaying signs of autism (although for an autistic child she's awfully expressive). But she's also showing her NAOC-ness by causing objects to move about of their own accord, and bringing the occasional critter back to life. This brings her to the attention of Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), a self-help guru and a rather nasty cult leader in his spare time. Turns out that he's been searching for a specific child who, in the future, will lead people to God. Turns out he's been murdering innocent children in a ritualistic fashion to find the specific NAOC he is looking for. Turns out he's married the junkie sister just to get to the NAOC. Turns out that the nasty cult leader is a bit cozier to Beelzebub than anyone realizes. Turns out the FBI Investigator (Jimmy Smits) who was called in to investigate the child murders is in way over his head, as is O'Connor (remember her?). That's a whole lot of coinkydinks, don't you think?
You'd never guess that Basinger won an Oscar just three short years ago. She sleepwalks her way through the part, although to be fair it ain't much of a part. Maggie is a strong-willed, independent woman which the filmmakers took to mean "ignorant, stubborn hothead" and she often quite incomprehensibly gets herself into situations no sane person would even consider without calling in the National Guard first. Frankly, if my kid were kidnapped by a whacked-out Satanist, I'd be calling the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, cops, Guardian Angels and Johnny Cochran before I'd go into the lions den by myself.
Of course, the ludicrous scale doesn't really factor in to horror movies -- common sense is supposed to take a back seat to a good scare. And that's what this movie really lacks. I'll admit, Da Queen jumped once, but I think she was more frightened by the teen-age girls sitting two rows behind us more than anything. In fact, if you REALLY want a good scare, try reading the election coverage in the local papers. Despite valiant efforts by Smits and Sewell, and a couple of good supporting role turns by Christina Ricci and Ian Holm, "Bless the Child" is more of a snooze than a scare.
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See cast, credit and other details about "Bless the Child" at Internet Movie Data Base.