SEVENTH SIGN, THE(director: Carl Schultz; screenwriters: George Kaplan/W.W. Wicket; cinematographer: Juan Ruiz-Anchia; editor: Caroline Biggerstaff; cast: Demi Moore (Abby Quinn), Michael Biehn (Russell Quinn), Jürgen Prochnow (David, The Boarder), Manny Jacobs (Avi), Peter Friedman (Father Lucci), John Taylor (Jimmy), Rabbi William Kramer (Rabbi Ornstein); Runtime: 97; Tri-Star Pictures; 1988)
“The film’s moral message that the world can be saved with hope, seemed like just so much mush.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An unreal end of the world film, even though it is set in the everyday family world. It’s a thriller stressing supernatural shocks and fuzzy apocalypse dramatizations, that has the cast trying hard to be convincing about all the hokum: of bloody rivers in Nicaragua, dead fish in Haiti as the sea boils, of birds falling from the sky, of the earth shaking, of ice in the Israeli desert in the same place as Sodom, and hailstones on Fairfax Ave. in L.A.. These are the ‘seven signs’ from God as noted in the biblical prophesies. The signs mean that He’s come to judge the world and only a pregnant Demi Moore through her self-sacrifice can stop him from destroying it. If I said hard to believe, I really mean this film was impossible to believe. It’s a biblical nightmare film with a misplaced attempt to connect to other horror movies, as Demi thinks she’s having Rosemary’s Baby.
Abby Quinn (Demi) is the expectant mother who has lost one child during pregnancy and is now fearful of losing another. She is living in Venice, California, with her lawyer husband Russell (Biehn). He’s working on an appeal to stop the execution of Jimmy (Taylor), a youngster who killed his parents because God ordered him to do it. In order to get some extra money, they rent a small room over their garage to David (Jürgen Prochnow). He looks like he’s cast straight from Lee Strassberg’s Method Acting School for villains. But there’s a more logical explanation for his strange behavior, ghost-like presence, and fiery eyes — he’s God’s messenger, The Christ, and has come to witness the destruction of the world unless Abby would give the world hope by sacrificing herself to save the child. David’s a busy messenger he’s been all over the world breaking the seals of the seven signs, as he is finding no hope for the world to become a peaceful place worth saving.
What arouses Abby’s suspicions about this strangely quiet guy or rather this supernatural character, is that she discovers ancient Hebrew manuscripts in his room – with the date of her child’s expected birth of 2/29 on it and with script written in an ancient Hebrew language. She also was suspicious about the Guf story he told her of sparrows singing when a child is to be born, and of how the last sign before the apocalypse is that the first soulless child will be stillborn and the sparrows won’t sing anymore when they encounter a pregnant woman. She got help in translating this from a Talmudic student (Manny Jacobs).
Warning: spoilers to follow.
The film was so dreadfully out of touch with its own story, that it kept piling on different situations which only made its far-out story even more implausible. Lack of clarity became the only clear thing about the film. There are dream-nightmare sequences that go back to ancient Rome that Abby keeps having; there is a mad priest (Friedman) who is the Vatican scientist confirming true miracles, but is really the Roman gatekeeper who struck Christ and is now working to make sure the world is destroyed while pretending to be working for Christ. If that weren’t enough hokum, there is a series of natural disasters that the population doesn’t seem to be too concerned about but are really the seven signs enacted by God. Jimmy is thought of as the last martyr, that his death will surely get the wrath of God. If this is what the filmmaker thinks God is, he has made God out to be a lunatic.
The film lacked a decent script, meaningful acting, and credible direction. It is a silly film — but not one that was funny in a campy way. The film’s moral message that the world can be saved with hope, seemed like just so much mush.
REVIEWED ON 1/4/2001 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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