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Stigmata

Year: 1999
Studio: MGM
Director: Rupert Wainwright
Writer: Tom Lazarus/Rick Ramage
Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Patricia Arquette, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long, Rade Sherbedgia, Portia De Rossi

There have been stranger pairings in movies than an intelligent, Vatican-based priest who busts bogus miracles and a suburban US hairdresser, just as there have been funnier scary moments than when a punk's head rolls off on a train and promises the heroine in a nasty voice that the devil is coming 'to fuck you'.

But as long as a man and a woman are running around haunted or hunted by an antagonist, you have a movie. Investigating supernatural phenomena is Father Kiernan's (Byrne) specialty and cutting hair is Frankie's (Arquette).

When she starts exhibiting stigmata - the wounds on the wrists and head suffered by Christ during the crucifixion - it isn't with the rapture of receiving the blessed spirit of the redeemer as such phenomena are supposed to signpost in real life, but a sign of imminent demonic possession. How they got that so wrong I have no idea, but hey - blood's involved so there's horror potential, right?

To be fair such a misguided execution of the idea has some thrills, menace and it's very hard not to watch the cute Arquette, especially when she's the damsel in distress.

It also makes on consider what an interesting profile Byrne has. He has a high quality reputation despite appearing in clag like this film, portraying Satan himself in the dire Schwarzenegger thriller Ghost Ship.

And ask yourself this; do you think the writer's name is really 'Lazarus', or is it an inside joke pseudonym?

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