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[whitespace] Rufus Sewell, Holliston Coleman
Unholy Offering: Cult leader Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell) wants to turn Cody (Holliston Coleman) into a satanic messiah.

Bad Omen

Holier-than-thou supernatural thriller 'Bless the Child' doesn't have a prayer

By Richard von Busack

TURKEY DIAVOLO. Bless the Child, more pious than The Omega Code and even more ridiculous, pits nuns against demons in a struggle for the fate of the world. Maggie (Kim Basinger), a good-hearted Brooklyn nurse of lapsed Catholic faith, gets a surprise visit from her junkie sister Jenna (Angela Bettis, bad in a promising part). The needle-fancier takes her sister's money but leaves her baby, Cody, behind. Several years pass, Cody grows into a freckle-faced quasi-autistic (played by Holliston Coleman) with the power to spin plates and bring dead birds back to life.

One day, without warning, Jenna rematerializes, married to Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell) the antichristlike founder of a New Age religion that counsels doing your own thing without any attention to that outdated piffle about good and evil. Stark's minions, earthly and otherwise, kidnap Cody in an attempt to groom her into a satanic messiah, as Easter eve, ripe for profanation, looms up. Fortunately, angels are on the side of Cody and Maggie, and Jesus himself lends a hand, thinly disguised as a delivery boy. ("Good work, Jesus. Hey, he vanished as mysteriously as he appeared.")

Jimmy Smits and Lumi Cavazos are both emetic as a religious FBI agent and a nun, respectively. Christina Ricci has ten minutes on screen; Ian Holm has but one scene as a crusty, wheelchair-bound priest who points out that DEMONS ARE REAL no matter what wise guys claim. Too bad the demons aren't realer than these gimcrack computer graphics.

Holm's line "The devil's biggest trick was convincing the world that he didn't exist," is borrowed from The Usual Suspects, and isn't improved by repetition. The idea deserves an argument. Doesn't it seem like Satan could get a lot more of whatever it is that he doesn't have already if he proved he did exist? You know ... www.ca$h4souls.com? Don't call me, venture capitalists. I don't have his number. I only see him once a year, every Halloween. You know, a quick hoofshake, "how do you like the barbecued goat, Richard, seen any good movies lately?" And then he's spotted someone more important over my shoulder, like Keanu Reeves or J.K. Rowling. Anyway, Bless the Child may be some comfort to the fundamentalists who didn't get what they were shopping for at the Republican convention. But after this dose of church you may want to go see a movie.

Bless the Child (R; 110 min.) directed by Chuck Russell. written by Clifford and Ellen Green, photographed by Peter Menzies Jr, and starring Kim Basinger, Rufus Sewell and Jimmy Smits, plays at selected theaters valleywide

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From the August 17-23, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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