Stigmata

Stigmata is a 1999 movie that I tend to forget about when listing horror flicks that I have seen over the years although I do recall being a bit scared or getting a couple of jumps in the theatre. This time around not so much and it’s more of a religious corruption movie rather than horror on the second viewing. Anyways, the movie is directed by by Rupert Wainwright and stars Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Johnathan Pryce, Enrico Collantoni, Nia Long & Portia de Rossie. Patrick Muldoon has a couple of minor scenes in it as well.

The film starts with father Andrew, who is a scientist as well as a Jesuit priest, investigating the reports of blood tears coming from a statue of Mary Magdalene in a Brazilian church at the funeral of father Paulo Almeida. A boy steals a rosary from the priest’s body and sells it to an American tourist who sends it along with other trinkets to her daughter Frankie Page, an atheist hairdresser living in Philadelphia. Soon after she touches the rosary Frankie is attacked by an unseen force while she is bathing and receives two deep wounds on her wrists. The doctors can’t find the cause of the puncture wounds which goes all the way through. While riding the subway back home with her friend she approaches a priest who is sitting opposite two nuns and asks if he is father Andrew. The priest replies that he is father Derning and the lights starts to flicker, the subway shakes and Frankie is whipped by the unseen force on her back as she stands in a Christ like pose.

Derning sends the security footage the Vatican and they send Andrew to investigate. When Frankie tells him that she is an atheist Andrew ells her that stigmatics are universally spiritual people and that stigmata is the deeply devoted being struck with the five wounds that Jesus Christ received during the crucifixion, so Frankie has been impaled through the wrists and whipped. A little upset Frankie tries to investigate a medical answer on her own but is haunted by a vision of herself dropping a baby on the road. At night while at a club her beings to bleed as the 3rd stigmata of crown of thorns affects her. She ends up in alley followed by Andrew where she scratched weird symbols on a car and speaks to Andrew in Aramaic and in a male voice. Andrew takes her to Derning’s church and plays a recording of what Frankie spoke to Vatican linguist Brother Delmonico who tells him that it is Aramaic. Frankie goes home and, the next morning, Andrew returns to her apartment to find her writing in marker on the wall, now covered in Aramaic. When questioned, Frankie responds in a male voice speaking Italian but then collapses on the bed. Frankie goes out and walks the streets with Andrew, when she collapses as wounds appear in her feet, the fourth wound of stigmata.

Father Dario intercepts the emails that Aramaic sent to Delmonico of the writings and he shows it to Cardinal Houseman, who had sent Andrew on the assignment. The Cardinal along with Dario and a few others come to Philadelphia while Delmonico tells Marion Petricelli about the writings. Later a seemingly possessed Frankie tries to seduce Andrew and when he rejects her she yells and attacks him before levitating off the bed crying tears of blood. Houseman and Dario arrive at the apartment with Derning and take Frankie to another church, sending Andrew to Derning’s. Here Andrew is met by Marion who tells him thee words Frankie has been writing are part of a document found outside Jerusalem that they believed to be a gospel in the exact words of Jesus. Petrocelli, Delmonico and Alameida were assigned to translate it, but Houseman ordered them to stop. Alameida refused and stole the document to continue translating it alone, having been excommunicated by Houseman. The document was Jesus telling his disciples that the Kingdom of God is in all of us and all around us and not confined to churches, a revelation that could ruin the Catholic Church. Petrocelli also tells Andrew that Alameida suffered from stigmata.

Andrew rushes to the church in time to stop Houseman from strangling Frankie after failing to exorcise her. the fireplaces in the room erupt and set the room on fire. Now believing Frankie is possessed by Alameida’s spirit, Andrew offers to be Alameida’s messenger instead. He walks unharmed through the fire to retrieve Frankie, bidding Alameida’s spirit to depart in peace. Some time later, Andrew returns to Belo Quinto and finds the original documents for the lost gospel under the floorboards of Alameida’s church. The film ends with a screen of text describing the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, believed, according to the film, to be the closest thing to the actual words of Jesus while alive: the film states the Catholic Church refuses to recognize the document as a gospel and considers it heresy.

Religious horror hmmm. I remember it as being a lot scarier back when I watched it at the theatres back in 1999 when the movie came out. This time around it isn’t effective at all. The movie was mostly panned but I’ll give it a grudging 7 outta 10!

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