Stigmata (1999)

From the director of Blank Check comes the latest religious up-in-arms controversial picture billed to your local theater. While being wrongly labeled a horror flick, this movie is nothing to get excited over if you take your religion seriously. Because this movie sure doesn’t, and the only ones that will be influenced by this hour and forty minute music video of blood would simply be the gullible.

Patricia Arquette plays Pittsburgh’s young and nubile atheist hero and the finest hairdresser in town, when she isn’t bleeding over her customers that is. Well the party girl gets in touch with some rosaries and has violent seizures and fits, as well as experiencing strange wounds and lashes akin to the wounds of Christ. Faster than you can say “Mulder and Scully where are you?” the Vatican dispatches priest Gabriel Byrne to investigate the bizarre goings on. What he soon discovers turns him into a believer and turns the Catholic church scared that Christ is coming back and brandishing some mean hickory. Paddlin’ line starts west of Rome.

It’s not that the idea is totally repellent or half-baked, but the movie is turned into an MTV video with legs. With all the hyper-editing and pounding electro music from Pumpkinite Billy Corgan you’ll be thrashing in your seat having a violent seizure yourself. The over stuffing of cuts and more blood than a Red Cross drive can’t cover up a head scratcher of a storyline.

The script has so many glaringly logistical problems stacked up everywhere trying to present themselves as pious dogma. Stigmata is merely the recreation of Christ’s wounds, not soul possession. How in the world Arquette becomes the working girl version of Linda Blair is beyond logic. The movie also perceives that stigmata can be transmitted by touch. It’s not an STD people, we don’t need pamphlets trumpeting safe religious reenactments in schools do we? But the biggest hole is not the notion there’s a Catholic conspiracy hiding valuable works of Jesus that may be a threat to their job security. After all the fuss and the build up the hidden passages and books are nothing more than a basic Sunday School lesson. Is this what everyone’s shaking in their gowns over? I’ve seen more religious danger in a Denny’s breakfast menu.

Stigmata is a glitzy and loud poison pen letter to religion. It’s got an incomprehensible storyline and wastes the great actor Jonathon Pryce for the role of a villainous Catholic Cardinal always within reach of his cell phone. Stigmata is an example of what the movie industry is serving out these days: all style, no substance if any, and without any semblance of common sense. So of course it’s destined to make a killing at the box-office.

Nate’s Grade: C-

About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on September 4, 1999, in 1999 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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