Stigmata is one of those horror pictures that plays off all the correct, innate religious triggers that get us thinking, “hey… what if the whole Bible thing is really real”? It builds you up, forcing you to remember days spent in Sunday school sweating out your sins in coloring books of the Jesus Christ being killed viciously on a cross (do you use the pink crayon for the spear or the orange one?) Somewhere in between feeling like your receiving a quickie refresher in the crucifixion and watching Patricia Arquette in dire need of a blood transfusion is an effective piece of religious Horror that tests your faith (if you have faith to be tested) and helps to separate religious Horror as a subgenre from possession films. Most Christian Horror feels like the Exorcist rip off part 1000. Stigmata is a venture down a unique path that plays as much with blood as it does with the viewers brains. Scream Factory is releasing the Blu-ray May 19th. Watch your ankles, wrists, side and forehead. Get the blood bag ready.
While I enjoyed Stigmata upon first viewing it, the movie seemed to suffer from this strange flashback, quick insert photographic shot that always make me cringe. It was used in the recent Mad Max: Fury Road providing one of my only points of criticism for the entire movie. Once you get past this super quick flash of historic bible lesson thrust in your face at nearly the speed of light, the acting, narrative and mystery become compelling. I always enjoy Patricia Arquette and having her play opposite Gabriel Byrne is a treat. Here is innocence personified juxtaposed with the quintessential priest. Cast this movie wrong and the whole thing would feel like a The Unholy from 1988. The caliber of actor keeps the sympathy strong for all involved and creates trust; the trust is necessary given my skepticism surrounding organized religion. If someone is going to tell me a tale about a martyr or a person suffering from a supernatural, religious affliction I have to rely on the actors NOT to preach to me. In this our protagonists are particular effective.
The movie is effected well and aside from the flash imagery, it is shot well. The transfer looks nice with no obvious issues to report. I believe I saw this in its initial theatrical run and it represents my initial impression of the picture well for a newer Horror movie. The extra package balances out the movie with a nice look back at stigmata and even a music video for the song Identity from Natalie Imbruglia (clearly this was a 90’s movie). Combine that with some deleted scenes and even an alternate ending and you have a true Scream Factory disc, rich with content and a movie that is a newer classic Horror picture. It’s fitting that this movie sees its Blu-ray release during a time when possession and exorcism found footage films dominate the independent market. They could learn a few things from a movie like Stigmata that creates old world tension in a newer package.
You like the original Exorcist for the concepts in the movie and not just for the pea soup or Dick Smith head spins… Stigmata might be for you.
Audio Commentary With Director Rupert Wainwright
Incredible But True – Stigmata: Marked For Life
Divine Rights: The Story Of Stigmata
Music Video – “Identify” By Natalie Imbruglia
From Scream Factory:
Frankie Paige (Arquette) has absolutely no faith in God. All of that changes when she suddenly begins to suffer the stigmata — the living wounds of the crucified Christ. Frankie’s miraculous bleeding comes to the attention of the Vatican’s top investigator, Father Kiernan (Byrne). But when Cardinal Houseman (Jonathan Pryce, Brazil, Ronin), discovers that Frankie is actually channeling an extraordinary and provocative message that could destroy the Church, he’s convinced that she — and the force possessing her — must be forever silenced. Determined to stop this deadly conspiracy, Kiernan risks his faith and his life to save her and the message that will change the destiny of mankind forever. Also starring Portia de Rossi (TV’s Arrested Development), Nia Long (Big Momma’s House) and Rade Sherbedgia (Taken 2, X-Men: First Class), Stigmata is a riveting supernatural thriller that’ll leave you breathless.