Thursday, October 20, 2016
The Seventh Sign
The Seventh Sign (1988) tries to be a modern-day Rosemary's Baby with a more apocalyptic bent, but the resulting movie is ultimately not that absorbing, lacking the genuine terror and paranoia of Roman Polanski's masterpiece. It tries, but in the end, it's muddled, predictable, and not particularly scary.
Abby Quinn (Demi Moore) is seven months pregnant and nervous. The last time she and her attorney husband Russell (Michael Biehn) were expecting, the baby did not survive. Anyway, they rent a garage apartment to the mysterious David Bannon (Jurgen Prochnow), who claims to be a teacher of ancient languages. Soon, weird stuff begins happening, and Abby becomes convinced her baby is at the center of a Biblical prophecy that could mean the end of the world.
One of the great strengths of Rosemary's Baby was how we couldn't be sure if Mia Farrow was going crazy or if her neighbors really did have devilish designs on her baby. One of the problems with The Seventh Sign is we're pretty certain from the get-go that something supernatural is really going on. While Rosemary's Baby accumulated tension and progressed its narrative, The Seventh mostly spins its wheels, not really getting anywhere.
Also, Rosemary's Baby spent every scene with Rosemary. We got to know her pretty well, to feel for her plight, and root for her every step of the way. In depicting the signs of the apocalypse in places like Haiti and Israel, along with spending time with Russell and other characters, The Seventh Sign distances the viewer from Abby, nor does it help that Moore turns in a rather bland, vacant performance.
The Seventh Sign has some neat apocalyptic imagery - the dead fish on the beach, the frozen desert town - and some of the back story is interesting, especially involving David and a mysterious priest (Peter Friedman) investigating the signs, but little is done with this.
The film admirably tries to tell the story of the apocalypse through a personal narrative, but it just doesn't seem to work as well as it could have. By the time we get to the delivery scene during an earthquake and thunder, the early sense of dread and doom has been long lost.