1999 was a stellar year for movies. The Matrix, American Beauty, Fight Club, The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, The Iron Giant, The Straight Story, The Insider, All About My Mother, and Being John Malkovich, to name but a few. Unfortunately whilst we were basking in the glow of these wonderful movies, nobody was paying attention at the door, and Stigmata managed to elbow its way into the party.
A religious horror that aims squarely for The Exorcist, but misses by a mile, Stigmata follows Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette), a Pittsburgh hairdresser who begins suffering the wounds of Christ after her mother sends her the rosary of a dead priest. There’s lots of levitating, wind machines, and bloody carnage, as Frankie is suddenly beset by a mystical crucifixion. The Vatican despatch their professional debunker (Gabriel Byrne) to investigate. He is the sort of character that only exists in bad movies. He’s a priest, but also a scientist, so you know, ooh conflicted. He’s also ridiculously handsome, and misses being with women, so you know, ooh he’s sexy too.
This is a profoundly stupid film that leaves you scratching your head at the level of dumbness on display. Frankie’s body is being used to channel a message from God, so why the hell is she being mangled to a bloody pulp as if Pazuzu was in there instead? There’s also a preposterous church conspiracy being protected by Cardinal Bad-Guy (Jonathan Pryce) that amounts to very little, but apparently explains everything that’s going on. It doesn’t.
Added to all this is the ham-fisted direction of Rupert Wainwright. The music video, rain-soaked aesthetic, coupled with Billy Corgan’s irritating electro-grunge score, make this an altogether unhappy viewing experience. Arquette and Byrne, the class acts that they are, just about manage to walk away unscathed.
Cast: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Price Director: Rupert Wainwright Writer: Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage Released By: Eureka Certificate: 18 Duration: 103 mins Release Date: 17th October 2016