tek's rating: ½

Bless the Child (R)
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This is based on a book I haven't read. If I were being as accurate as possible, I'd put this review under both "thrillers" and "supernatural films", but it saves space to just call it "supernatural horror". It came out in 2000, and I'm fairly sure I saw it on TV sometime in the early 2000s. I'm reviewing it after watching it again on DVD in 2023. I didn't really remember anything about it besides the basic vibe of the thing, and the fact that Christina Ricci was in it. But I think I also had it somewhat confused in my mind with the 1999 movie "Stigmata", another thing I probably saw on TV in the early 2000s. The movie was pretty much universally panned, and I think it's fair to dislike it, because it definitely has its problems, but personally I liked it. I mean... I have mixed feelings about it because I have mixed feelings about Christian mythology in general, but that's kind of hypocritical considering I use Christian mythology (of my own sort) in my books (which I'll probably never finish writing, let alone get published). But on the whole I liked the movie, even if I had to read some of my own ideas into it. I do like the idea of good vs. evil (in a Christian sense) having certain rules both sides have to play by, which isn't exactly made explicit in this movie, but you can definitely see both sides playing their roles and the agents of evil being more overt in their actions while the agents of good are more subtle (most of the time). And... yeah, I like that. (There's one scene where the main bad guy tests the 6-year-old Christ figure by encouraging her to jump off a tall building, to see if her God would save her. She doesn't jump, but I remain quite curious about what would have happened if she had. But I also feel like what she does instead of jumping is a neat callback to something that happened earlier in the movie.) Anyway, I do think some parts of the movie are a bit cheesy, but I also find the plot interesting in a way that may be more subjective than objective. Because objectively, I admit it's not great, but it has some concepts that I'm happy to see played with. Could they have been done better? Sure, but they're done well enough, I feel, to allow me to enhance their usage in my own mind while watching the movie.

Around Christmas in 1993, a psychiatric nurse named Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) goes home and finds her junkie sister, Jenna, waiting for her with a baby girl named Cody, who is about a week old. After an argument, Jenna leaves Cody with Maggie and runs away. The movie flashes forward six years, to shortly before Easter. There has been a series of kidnappings and murders of 6-year-old children, as some Satanic cult is looking for a child born on a particular night, who they realize is like... I guess a sort of second coming of Christ, or something like that. The murders are being investigated by the police, and an FBI agent named John Travis (Jimmy Smits) arrives to take the lead in that investigation. Meanwhile, Maggie meets a young woman named Cheri (Ricci), who has recently quit a "self-help" organization called New Dawn, and says she knows Jenna, and that Cody is special. Maggie wants to learn more from her, but doesn't get a chance. Later, Jenna, now apparently sober, shows up with her new husband, Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), the wealthy head of New Dawn, and they kidnap Cody. Maggie reports this to the police, and Agent Travis is eager to help, though there's not much he can do officially without evidence.

Well, of course New Dawn is actually the cult that's been killing children. Stark is a servant of Lucifer, and wants to turn Cody to his side in the war of good vs. evil. If he can't do that, he'll kill her. Maggie is desperate to get Cody back, which she tries to do on her own, at the same time that Travis and the police are trying to get evidence that would let them pursue Stark. And... plenty of other stuff happens that I don't want to get into. You get the gist of the story, I think. I don't really know what else to say about all this, anyway. Except that I just like the idea of God and Lucifer each mostly letting human agents do their work for them, and even if demons or angels get involved sometimes, they don't really do anything outside the bounds of nature. So... the movie is definitely supernatural, and yet it's sort of grounded in reality. Sort of. I guess. Anyway, that's a kind of story that interests me. Those are the kinds of plot elements I could have a lot of fun playing with, if I were writing the story. So it's just sort of nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to play with those particular toys.

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