Stigmata (1999)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Sep 10, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Lights flash, water drips, doves flutter, statues cry blood, and one by one Patricia Arquette is inflicted by the wounds of Christ. That's about all anyone needs to know about Stigmata, yet another attempt to spook audiences by exposing them to eerie images of religious anomaly, with the fate of humanity ambiguously in the balance. What better actor to navigate this dark landscape than Gabriel Byrne, who seems to lurk in the shadows of one spiritually skewed flick after another. Byrne plays the investigator-priest sent all over the planet to debunk Virgin Mary sightings and other claims that henpeck the Catholic Church, here corruptly embodied by Jonathan Pryce's power-hungry Cardinal Houseman. Watching him scurry to squelch evidence of Christ's true gospel, among the many absurdities the lazy script asks viewers to swallow, one wonders why Pryce agreed to play such a caricature in piffle like this. It may provide a cool, cheap thrill to hear a guttural male voice speaking Italian from Arquette's lips, and it may be superficially chilling to see her scrawl chapter and verse in an ancient language her goth Pittsburgh hairstylist couldn't possibly understand. But for a genuinely disquieting experience, it's probably better to stick to the inspiration for Stigmata and a dozen other such knockoffs: 1973's The Exorcist.