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  Seventh Sign, The A Rage In Heaven
Year: 1988
Director: Carl Schultz
Stars: Demi Moore, Michael Biehn, Jurgen Prochnow, Peter Friedman, Manny Jacobs, John Taylor, Lee Garlington, Akosua Busia, Harry Basil, Arnold Johnson, John Walcutt, Michael Laskin, Hugo Stanger, Patricia Allison, Ian Buchanan, Leonardo Cimino, John Heard
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: In a village near the coast of Haiti, a man appears, walking through the crowds until he arrives at the beach. A little boy notices him standing by the shore, holding a parchment which he breaks the seal of, then drops it to the ground where it is taken by the sea; immediately after, fish begin washing up dead there, and when the boy goes to pick one up, it burns his hand. In Israel a few days later, a meteorologist is called out to a terrorist training camp in the middle of the desert that has been been turned to ice in spite of the blazing heat. What could possibly be going on to create these anomalies and what does it have to do with the seven months pregnant Abby Quinn (Demi Moore)?

The echoes of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen continue to ring down the years in the horror film genre, as it did in 1988 with The Seventh Sign, not to be confused with Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, as this was a tasteful chiller vehicle for a Brat Pack star. But how tasteful was it? Abby's husband, Russell (Michael Biehn), is a lawyer defending a man on the charges of murdering his parents, who were actually brother and sister, and to top it all the man is played by John Taylor, an actor with Down Syndrome. He does pretty well in the part, but the casting makes the viewer uncomfortable: sure, be as outrageous as you want in your horror movies, but this feels exploitative in the wrong way.

The murderer has ideas that he had to kill off his parents because it was God's will, and the deity has some funny ideas Himself about treating his creation. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be much of an influence of Satan in this, as it's wholly the Almighty's fault that the ancient prophecies of the end of the world are coming true. His messenger here on Earth is that man we saw in Haiti, calling himself David Bannion (Jurgen Prochnow), and wouldn't you know it but he turns up at Abby's house in the U.S.A. asking to be her latest lodger in the apartment above the couple's garage. He comes across as a nice enough chap, so they have no qualms about welcoming him in.

No qualms, that is until Abby starts getting suspicious about the scriptures he's keeping in the apartment, and starts to believe he may have some connection to her unborn child. Of course he does, as you'll find this is the trouble with horror movies that revolve around prophecies: they always have to come true or the story will be sorely lacking a memorable climax. The fact that David is on the side of the good guys doesn't sink in with Abby until it's almost too late, and he has a rival in a priest, Father Lucci (Peter Friedman), who visits the sites of the disasters as if to confirm his suspicions that yes, there is something supernatural going on.

And the baby? Well, if the predictions are correct then he will be born without a soul, heralding that old chestnut, the end of the world - but only if Abby cannot save her soul by making a sacrifice. The infant is really blameless, and the story ropes in reincarnation to show that she was around at the time of Christ and let him down back then when she could not make that sacrifice. There's a curious suicide motif about The Seventh Sign that appears to say it's OK to end it all if the world is at stake, which is highly unlikely to occur in real life, but is another example of the dubious quality of the ideas behind the script. As it is, the film avoids sensationalism for the most part, only going into overdrive for the earthquake-packed finale on Death Row and the delivery room, but this means a trudge through a selection of doleful scenes otherwise. Finally, it's all too confused in its message to be truly satisfying. Music by Jack Nitzsche.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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