A bit of background for the faithful reader:

I was (and still am to a degree) an angry youth. I grew up on horror films, and the music styles of Glam and Punk. My enemy was not my elders, but my own age group. Glam gave me a look (I was 14 and had pink hair at one point and I grew up in a wholesome suburb, I had a lot of problems), and the Punk gave me an attitude. One of the things I grew to hate was religion. I didn't hate God, I hated organized religion.

I eventually came to realize that the problem with the Punk mind set was that it was all about preaching to the converted. I also found that the Punk movement was the most closed minded, conformist movement out there. I was done with it. I also decided that the best ammo against a world I hated was to open my mind and learn things. The greatest thing we as people have is the ability to learn and grow.

I got to know religion.

I rented "Stigmata" hoping I would love it. The commercials made it look like a pile of cheap religious horror film rip-offs. I missed it in the theaters. I think I was in the bathroom. So, I rented it. Luckily I had been given a gift card to the Blockbuster chain so that I didn't have to pay for this.

The story is this: A priest dies. A priest investigator goes to investigate and finds a bleeding Virgin Mary. He tries to tell the Vatican. They say "go away". Then they hear of a girl suffering from Stigmata, which is when a person suffers the same wounds that Jesus suffered while on the cross. So they send the investigator. The investigator, played by Gabriel Byrne (I hope that is the correct spelling), is almost a direct lift from "The Exorcist". So off he goes to check this stuff out. Then a whole bunch of stuff happens. Very slowly though, and seemingly without purpose.

So here is the deal. Why do I think this movie bites so bad and deserves to be crucified? The images are nice enough. But that is all there is. The characters are soulless. Patricia Arquette is rather annoying in the role of the Atheist suffering the pains of Christ. Plus she keeps up her Atheist beliefs for almost the whole movie. Never once does she admit what is the obvious cause. Speaking from the view of a one time Atheist/Agnostic, if this had ever happened to me I would have been on my way to the nearest church crying my ass off! We all want a sign from above, and I think invisible spears and nails being driven through your skin is a pretty good sign.

Another problem is the person who is possessing her (I won't say much more due to not wanting to ruin this for people who might wish to see the movie) would never do half the things he makes her do. Quite the foul mouth he has. I just found the whole possession aspect way off.

Probably the biggest screw up was the whole purpose of the movie. The whole thing is about the actual words of Christ being ignored by the Vatican and being hidden away. So, we are just to believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls are being hidden? The thing the movie claims exists, but the Vatican wants destroyed, does exist. But the Vatican accepts them because they agree with the Bible. This movie may have worked, but that ruins it all.

I have a lot of VERY religious friends (some are missionaries and ministers), I have taken the time to get to know the world of religion. I still don't like organized religion, but this film is a joke.

Why is it that I can enjoy a film like "Bats", with all of it's silly and just plain stupid logic and dialogue, but then condemn this for the same? "Bats" never tries to be a real serious piece. All the actors might take the film serious, but it is all handled different. With "Stigmata" we feel like the director is preaching to us with this. When you step into the world of religion, you had better make damn sure you are doing it right.

The DVD looks pretty good though. The colors are at times dull, but that was just the way it was filmed. As I stated, the look of the movie is very nice. It has quite a few interesting shots.

The extras include deleted scenes. These scenes should have been left in and the original beginning and ending should also have been left in. If the original ending had been left, the film would have gained points for intensity. Same goes for the beginning.

The DVD also come with a booklet with quite a bit of info also. Oh, and if you do get the DVD and are a fan of the film, find the Easter egg. It is on the main screen. Just move the cursor until one of the silver ball things lights up. There you will get some story boards with music so that it plays like a cool slide show.

I can't remember all that came on the DVD, but there was a quite a bit. If you did enjoy the movie, run out and buy it now. This is a well done DVD. If you haven't seen it, rent it before buying. If you felt the movie was just O.K., also rent it first to see if the extras kick it up that extra notch. If you thought it sucked, and you buy it, well then you deserved it.

I give this thing *1/2 out of *****. It wasn't as bad as the new version of "The Haunting", but then again not much is.

Directed by Rupert Wainwright
Released by MGM
Rated R - Region 1
Running Time : approx 102 mins
Ratio : Widescreen (anamorphic)
Audio : Dolby Surround 5.1 English & French
Subtitles : French & Spanish
Extras : Directors Alternate Ending
Audio Commentary by Director
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Music Video by Natalie Imbruglia (!!?)
Review by Carl R Isonhart