Monday, October 10, 2011

The Seventh Sign

The Seventh Sign is the first of a handful of late ‘80’s-early ‘90’s films that were popular with customers back in the days when my mother owned a video store. I do not recall this one ever being considering a classic among renters aside from the Demi moore nude scene. I have never been a big Moore fan, but after having seen her naked numerous times before watching this film for the first time, I am not hugely impressed by her early skin exposure. It does not elevate the film any.

I am still surprised I missed The Seventh Sign back in the day. It was released in 1988 during my sixth grade year when my class was tormented by a Bob Jones University educated teacher who was obsessed with finding Satanism in anything and everything. Some of the less rigid classmates at our Christian school developed a taste for horror films just to spite her. I could barely get into many slasher flicks, but the constant speculation about the coming apocalypse the BJU trained teachers enjoyed indulging in had me seeking out all sorts of end of the world films, particularly if they were laced with spiritual elements. The Seventh Sign would have been right up my alley at 12. At 34, it is a fun, confusing watch.

When signs of the apocalypse begin following a wandering stranger, the Vatican sends a priest, Father Lucas, to investigate. In n interesting twist, he is a skeptic that end time prophecy is being fulfilled, but the pregnant Abby, played by Moore, believes differently. Usually in these kind of movies, the priest is a rogue true believer going against the skepticism of his superiors. that is an original twist.

As are the flashbacks in which we learn the wanderer is revealed to be Jesus come back to earth to judge mankind while Father Lucas, was Pontius Pilate’s porter who struck Jesus before he was condemned and had to wander the Earth--the Wandering jew legend, methinks--until Jesus’ return. Abby is also reborn. She is a woman who offered jesus water while he hung on the cross. Her baby is, naturally, the Seventh Sign of the apocalypse.

The Seventh Sign is light on horror, which is fine with me. I prefer thrillers to gore films in the genre. There is a lot of tension early on when you know these two man are interested in Abby’s baby, but you are not certain which one has the unborn child’s best interests at heart. The revelation of who all the players really are comes across as corny, but it still fits in with the tone of the rest of the movie. It is the end of the world as we know it, but nothing is being taken too seriously. In fact, there is one sequence in which Abby is channel suffering through images of the four Horseman’s work: war, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. Interspersed is a scene from a gaudy game show. It would be reality television that is considered a more apt sign of the apocalypse.

I liked The Seventh Sign. It is way too pedestrian for horror fans to enjoy, even if those fans like apocalyptic films. But there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, either. It has a good cast. The story plays out plausibly even with its corny elements. Some viewers might be upset a villain has down’s syndrome and winds up killed himself. I was not too rattled by it, but I did find it a strange story element. I advise watching if you have nothing better to do, but there are better films in the genre if you want something scarier or at least with more substance.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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