Retro Review: Stigmata

Written: Sept. 12, 1999

The inspiration of the classic horror film “The Exorcist” is seen throughout “Stigmata”.

“Stigmata” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as the bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy.

Well in the new film “Stigmata” we witness this religious infliction as a devote atheist is struck down by an unseen force.

The atheist played by Patricia Arquette is a hair-stylist living in New York and has only one religious connection, her globe-trotting mother.

But as this infliction repeats along the same pattern as the crucified Christ, a priest (Gabriel Byrne) is sent from Rome to disprove such an obvious blasphemy.

The priest’s cardinal (Jonathan Pryce) has sent the priest all over the world disproving religious phenomenon.

But when the priest comes face to face with the affliction an unknown terror erupts in him, the church and his faith in God.

“Stigmata’s” story is a wonderful one which delivers a wonderful performance out of star Gabriel Byrne who hasn’t been this good since “The Usual Suspects”.

He is the definite stand-out of this film.

Where Stigmata seems to fall apart is when Arquette is consumed by the affliction and she comes off as a complete rip-off of Linda Blair’s possessed demon in the classic “Exorcist”.

Another evident problem is the scenes where Arquette is victimized by the force. These come off as a music video laced in blood. As the blood rips out of Arquette we are hit by music and an extremely unfocused and jumpy camera. If we can stick with the story and the mystery surrounding why the church feels threatened by the infliction you have a wonderful movie.

(3.5 of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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