THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The Seventh Sign (1988)
Directed by Carl Schultz
“This is the type of horror movie that strives for grandness.”
With Easter upon us, it seems fitting to examine a film heavy in religious overtones. Now, there’s gaggles of films to choose from that deal with the most serious of all topics, but 1988’s The Seventh Sign perhaps is the perfect movie to revisit because well…it’s about bringing life back into this miserable world and spreading the good word.
Now let’s get something out there right away. The Seventh Sign isn’t exactly a thrill ride. In fact, it takes its damn sweet time to get anywhere, not worrying about things like action or gore and relying instead on musical composition to create enough mood to keep the suspense going. For the most part, the movie succeeds in doing without having to bother the special effects department. We don’t need that type of nonsense here. No, no. This is the type of horror movie that strives for grandness – big in scale, big in story, big in what’s at stake. It’s dying for epic status.
While it doesn’t reach Ben Hur on the epic-o-meter and isn’t invited to sit at the big boy table, it gets points for attempting to be a large-scale religious horror flick. It spans the globe, hopping from country to country as a bald priest Father Lucci (Peter Friedman) with near clownish shaggy hair tracks down a path of destruction lead by a man in a loose fitting sweater – Sutter Cane! (ok, it’s Jurgen Prochnow, who plays the mysterious David.) The mountains of dead fish and dead soldiers (for no reason) don’t get Father Lucci down. Hell, he’s not even surprised by a frozen town in the middle of the desert. Could there be more to him than meets the eye? It’s a little obvious in the end, but producers perfectly used Prochnow because the man could create intensity eating a Snickers bar. He has that kind of look and he makes the movie.
At the same time, pregnant married lady Demi Moore is just trying to be a good wife. She’s ready to have pop out a kid while her husband Michael Biehn attempts to get a slow guy off from death row (Biehn’s absolutely wasted in the role. Why hire Kyle Reese/Cpl. Hicks and have him just stand around? Maybe this is the start of his career downslide). All goes well until they decide to rent to the sweater-loving David, who at least pays his rent in cash...unlike some people (looking at you, checkbook folk).
As mentioned above, to enjoy The Seventh Sign don’t be in a hurry. The movie prods and ticks away until we finally get to see the signs of the apocalypse slowly approach. Hail storms! Meaty gusts of winds! Ants gathering! Moody grey clouds! Ok, so that isn’t exactly the stuff of scares, but I dig the weight of it all. A budget probably didn’t exist that allowed from something more grand scale destruction, but I’m all right with that. Sometimes small hints work more effectively, especially when the coming apocalypse was secondary to Demi attempting to keep her baby safe and sound.
What truly makes the movie enjoyable is the one and only Demi Moore. She’s a riot in the movie. The definition of mediocre acting. Not awful, not tremendous, just totally mediocre and uninteresting. It’s really something that she ever amounted to much. She sports that deer in the headlights look all while keeping her mouth slightly agape. Most of the time she appears to concentrate very, very hard on the scene, which prevents any acting from taking place. Which is why we needed more Biehn. Need proof? Just make it to the grand conclusion. It’s wonderfully comical!