In Chuck Russell's BLESS THE CHILD, it's God's angels vs. the Devil's
team, and it's looking good for the forces of evil. But don't count out
the Lord's side until the last inning.
Starring Kim Basinger, recently seen unimpressively in the equally awful
I DREAMED OF AFRICA, BLESS THE CHILD is a canonical B-movie,
supernatural thriller. In the old days, it could have played as part of
a Saturday double feature, along with a serial, a newsreel and a couple
of cartoons. Part of a genre that includes such trashy movies as
STIGMATA, BLESS THE CHILD is one of the better of such bad movies. If
that sounds like a left-handed compliment, it is. Perhaps the most
devastating comment on the film is that it isn't scary. Unintentionally
funny, certainly, but rarely frightening.
A typical example of the unintentional humor occurs on a country road
with fog as thick as the proverbial pea soup. "Where's our backup?"
asks FBI Agent John Travis (Jimmy Smits). "They were right behind us,"
replies the perplexed state trooper accompanying him. The fog is good
at making people disappear in such films, but, of course, the lack of
any backup is no deterrent in a story in which stupid actions are par
for the course.
In another scene, Maggie O'Connor (Basinger) goes alone into a bad area
of town to personally confront the Devil's agent, Eric Stark (Rufus
Sewell). Eric is a cross between a Tony Robbins-style motivational
speaker and a David Koresh cult leader. He leads a permanently peppy
group known as the New Dawn Foundation.
The story opens with Maggie's strung-out sister, Jenna (Angela Bettis),
dumping her 6-day-old baby, Cody, with Maggie and then disappearing for
6 years. When Jenna returns, she's just as wasted on heroin as ever,
but now she is Eric's new bride and there to collect Cody (Holliston
Coleman) in order to do the Devil's work. But Cody is a child who has
been blessed by God with certain gifts and doesn't convert to the dark
The best part of the movie is that Coleman and most of the adult actors,
save Sewell, give quite respectable performances, much better in fact
that a film of this caliber deserves. The result is a silly movie
that's more watchable than you would expect, even when great actors like
Ian Holm have to deliver such gems as, "Today, the concept of evil is
This much can be said for BLESS THE CHILD -- at least it gives God a
fighting chance. Usually church officials shown in such supernatural
balderdash appear just as loathsome as the Devil himself, leaving us
with no side for which to root. This time, God isn't such a bad guy,
and his side just might win in the end. But I don't want to give
anything away to those of you incapable of guessing obvious conclusions.
BLESS THE CHILD runs 1:50. It is rated R for violence, drug content and
brief language and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes