Starring: Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Christina Ricci, Angela Bettis, Rufus Sewell
“The devil’s greatest achievement is that people don’t believe he exists. Nowadays, the concept of evil is politically incorrect. ” (Reverend, Bless The Child)
I had Bless The Child on my DVD shelf for years and never really felt the need to watch it. The front cover made it look like a cheap Exorcist rip-off and the only thing that really appealed to me was Christina Ricci (what can I say, I went through a Ricci phase at Uni). On at least five or six separate occasions I actually put it in my DVD player then changed my mind as it loaded and took it out. Finally, one night I thought “better get this over with”, slammed the bastard in and refused to turn it off no matter how bad it was going to be. I wasn’t exactly pleasantly surprised, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d expected.
Maggie O’Connor (Basinger) is a bit pissed off when her sister Jenna (Bettis) suddenly turns up at her door one day with her newborn baby, dumps the baby in her house then fucks off. With Jenna eventually presumed dead, Maggie reluctantly decides to become baby Cody’s unofficial mother. It soon becomes apparent that Cody’s autistic but what isn’t so noticeable is the fact that she has special powers – she can make things spin, light candles with her mind and the like.
Maggie copes for a few years until the very much not-dead Jenna comes back for her daughter with her new man, Eric Stark (Sewell). Not quite the killer catch, Stark is a devil worshipper who’s been killing children left, right and centre trying to find the one with the power to save mankind, or (by joining Stark and the devil) destroy it. Guess who that is then? No, I mean the girl.
Bless The Child is not a very scary film. With the exception of one scene in a subway this is a plot-driven horror film rather than one that relies heavily on ‘boo’ scares or moments of lengthy tension. As a result it never really has you on the edge of your seat but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it was never trying to in the first place.
Despite how far-fetched the plot is, the film is played well enough to suspend the audience’s beliefs for a while and accept the goings-on as real possibilities. Holliston Coleman is excellent as little Cody, and the way she portrays her character’s power can make the viewer feel slightly uneasy whenever she’s on-screen. Basinger plays it as you would expect, with plenty of “I WANT THE GIRL BACK” screamfests and ample helpings of tears throughout, while Jimmy Smits does the job as the detective (even if he does seem to accept the many odd and paranormal occurrences far too easily, essentially believing anything Basinger tells him no matter how out there it seems).
In all though, my concern about this being a load of old arse were unfounded. Bless The Child isn’t the greatest film ever made and the special effects are pretty poor (with the exception of one decapitation scene), but it’s enjoyable enough. It takes itself very seriously but not enough to be considered boring or pretentious, and it should manage to keep your attention for an hour and a half.