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BLESS THE CHILD

SYNOPSIS:
When drug-addled Jenna (Angela Bettis) dumps her newborn baby Cody (Holliston Coleman) on her more responsible big sis Maggie (Kim Basinger), little do they know the babe has special angelic powers. Maggie thinks it’s more than the autism – it’s like Cody is "listening to something we can't see or hear." Six years on, Jenna suddenly re-enters their lives with her new husband, Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), the infamous guru and brainchild of the self-help organization ‘New Dawn.’ He has sinister plans for young Cody, and when a spiritual FBI agent (Jimmy Smits) links him to a string of child murders, it uncovers a devilish affair.

"Along with the considerably talented (and bankable) actors Basinger (who looks great – but we know that), Smits, and Sewell, this derivative Satanic nonsense (think Rosemary’s Baby meets Touched by an Angel) boasts small, exploitative minor roles. There’s Christina Ricci in all her latex-bustier glory, and Ian Holm playing yet another outcast priest. Maybe all these stars were under the influence of a higher (or lower?) power when they signed on for Bless the Child. It’s the only reasonable explanation for their participation in this very D-grade unscary movie. Each of their roles is a laughable caricature; Basinger the latent Mom, Bettis the drug-addicted minion, Sewell the serpent’s earthly servant, and Smits the crusading Fox Mulder-ish cop. Only little Coleman shines – by default – as the chosen child. Chosen for what, you ask? Good question! The filmmakers never make it known what her gift is, apart from a few telekinetic tricks and feeling sick people’s pain. We never know what God’s grand plan is for her, and that’s just one of the missing links. The other is that this is supposed to be a chilling occult thriller. Puh! It barely registers a single scare - only the girl’s slightly monstrous nanny makes your skin crawl. As Satan's right-hand man, Sewell is so bland and unscary he brings shame on all the actors who’ve had so much devilish fun playing the Dark One, from Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, to DeNiro in Angel Heart, to Gabriel Byrne in End of Days. And while the direction from The Mask’s Chuck Russell is limp and uninspired, the worst aspect of this demonic disaster is the textbook dialogue, like "Where's our [police] backup? They were right behind us," and "Tell everyone to meet me in the chapel. These people are under attack, sister. They need our prayers." They might as well say a prayer for Bless the Child, as it vanishes to video hell. "And like that (‘click’), he’s gone…"
Shannon J. Harvey

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

BLESS THE CHILD (MA)
(US)

CAST: Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Holliston Coleman, Rufus Sewell, Angela Bettis, Christina Ricci,

DIRECTOR: Chuck Russell

PRODUCER: Mace Neufeld

SCRIPT: Thomas Rickman, Ellen Green, Clifford Green, (novel by Cathy Cash Spellman)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies Jr.

EDITOR: Alan Heim

MUSIC: Christopher Young

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carol Spier

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 12, 2000







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