Bless the Child
is one of several identikit supernatural thrillers released in the wake of The Sixth Sense
. It's another attempt to update 70s satanic-child flicks such as The Omen
, although the twist here is that the child is a force for ultimate good. One winter night, nurse Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) arrives home to find her junkie sister Jenna on her doorstep, destitute and in dire straits, holding a newly born baby wrapped in swaddling. She takes them in, but shortly after Jenna absconds leaving the child, Cody, in Maggie's care. Six years later, Jenna returns with her creepy new husband, Eric (Rufus Sewell), in tow to reclaim Cody, who has grown into a quiet but precocious child with a talent for telekinesis. They promptly disappear leaving Maggie distraught and desperate to recover her adopted child.
The chief problem with Bless the Child lies in its premise. As the film reaches its denouement and a glowing angelic host attempts to save Cody by snuffing out Sewell's satanic presence, one begins to suspect that this is the Hollywood equivalent of a Christian Rock album, attempting religious conversion by stealth and subversion. That said, the movie rolls along at a cracking pace and features several nice touches: Sewell is suitably creepy as the squint-eyed cult leader; Christina Ricci literally loses her head to the forces of darkness in a blink and you'll miss it cameo; and Cody's horrific waking nightmares put a new twist on what really lies at the end of the bed when the lights go out.
On the DVD: An awkward audio commentary pairs director Chuck Russell with visual effects supervisor Joel Hynek. Russell is keen on spelling out the rather obvious motivations of his characters while Hynek relays the difficulties encountered in realising the film's numerous special effects sequences, but it's hardly the kind of stuff that enhances your viewing of the film. A 10-minute featurette contains the standard enthusiastic cast and crew interviews. The inclusion of a theatrical trailer and seven virtually identical TV spots is simply overkill. The clear picture quality of the main feature shows off Peter Menzies' suitably Gothic cinematography, presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic format with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. --Chris Campion
Nurse Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) finds her life transformed when her little sister Jenna (Angela Bettis) suddenly turns up on her doorstep and leaves her autistic baby, Cody, for Maggie to look after. But six years later, after Maggie and Cody have become very close, Jenna returns with sinister new husband Eric (Rufus Sewell) and together they abduct the young girl. Only then does Maggie discover that Cody possesses supernatural powers so strong that the future of mankind lies within her grasp. Maggie however only cares about an innocent little girl caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and with the help of an FBI agent (Jimmy Smits) who specialises in occult-related crimes, she does her best to deliver Cody to safety.