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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.21%
Worth A Look32.89%
Just Average: 13.16%
Pretty Crappy: 25%
Sucks: 19.74%

13 reviews, 74 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Starring Patricia Arquette's teeth."
2 stars

According to 'Stigmata,' a luridly "sacrilegious" horror movie, the Catholic Church is responsible for the biggest cover-up this side of Dealey Plaza. Seems there are secret scrolls written by Christ himself that may invalidate the necessity -- the very existence -- of the Church.

So of course the Church has kept it under wraps all these centuries, and a presumably pissed-off Jesus has been trying to contact us over the years by way of stigmata -- bloody manifestations of the wounds he suffered during his crucifixion. Question is, if J.C. wants to get the word out so badly, why does he pick Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette), an atheistic Pittsburgh hair stylist, as his next stigmatic? Did he get tired of all those boring, devout monks? Why doesn't he just build a web site or something?

You're not supposed to ask any of those impertinent questions, and the director, Rupert Wainwright (yet another veteran of commercials and rock videos), doesn't give you time to, anyway. Stigmata tries hard not to be a stodgy, old-school religious horror flick (like, say, The Omen or The Exorcist); no, it's way hipper than that -- it hypes itself like a Mixmaster-MTV floor show in a rave club (sometimes literally). If you don't like a shot, wait two seconds and it'll change, although some of the most banal images -- like Frankie wearing a crown of thorns and looking heavenward -- are apparently so dear to Wainwright that we get to see them several times. With grungy cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball and a soundtrack partially blamed on Billy Corgan, you know you're in for the latest in millennial-industrial trash, and there's hardly a laugh to be found in it unless you get sick of the relentless visionary anguish and start getting the giggles.

A priest kicks the bucket in Brazil, and his rosary winds up in Frankie's hands; soon the bleeding begins -- first from her wrists, then from mysteriously inflicted whip slashes on her back. When Frankie first wakes up in the hospital, the doctors suspect the wounds may be self-inflicted, but they let her go home anyway -- presumably because she allays their fears that she's suicidal by insisting, "I'd never do that. I love being me -- ask anyone." I guess she's right, though I couldn't say for sure; all we know about Frankie prior to her sanguinary adventures is that she cuts hair and she likes to hang out in dance clubs. (She's also dumb enough to take a bath during a thunderstorm.) Patricia Arquette can be a vibrant, funny actress in the right role -- True Romance has earned her a lot of good will among movie buffs -- but she can't do anything with Frankie except suffer and bleed. Arquette's appealingly skewed front teeth have more character than Frankie does.

Frankie's case draws relatively little media attention (we see one tiny newspaper clipping), which is strange since she always seems to pick the most crowded places -- a club, a restaurant, a subway car, a city street -- to launch into one of her manifestations and start flailing around. Nevertheless, the Church, represented by shadowy cardinal Jonathan Pryce, sends out a special guy to check Frankie out: Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne), a priest with a background in biochemistry. Father Andrew had a whole other life before entering the priesthood -- he's not a virgin -- so we get a few awkward scenes in which a possessed Frankie rubs her merchandise all over the flustered Father Andrew. It's never clear who's possessing Frankie -- whether it's the spirit of Christ himself or something a bit more destructive. I ask because there's a scene where Frankie kicks the priest's ass all over her huge loft (do 23-year-old hairdressers make enough to afford that kind of hook-up?). Whatever's inside Frankie, it doesn't like men of the cloth all that much.

Stigmata does most of its work with woozy flash-cuts; at times, I thought I was watching Jacob's Ladder 2, complete with a freak-out scene on the dance floor. You keep expecting some sort of twist, some reason for Frankie's involvement besides the random circumstance of her getting that rosary. Why make such a big point of her being an unbeliever when nothing much is done with that angle? And why wouldn't the Church just shrug and laugh Frankie off, calling her a hysteric just trying to get attention? Oliver Stone would have known what to do with a juicy premise like this one -- he would've politicized it and turned it into an all-out assaultive inquiry into the Church and its way of blotting out awareness of anything that doesn't fit its beliefs. And he would've ignited the sort of controversy that Stigmata got (from the Catholic League) and doesn't really earn.

'Stigmata' turns the Catholic Church into just another corporate villain trying to hide stuff -- it might as well be the government or a tobacco company. Most of the time, though, it's just a cheeseball horror flick using Christian iconography to pass itself off as deep and heavy. In that respect, it's a lot more like some of those old-school religious horror movies than it lets on.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1610&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/30/06 14:34:45
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell the exorcist 4 the m tv crowd 1 stars
1/14/09 FrankNFurter Overly-bashed,surprisingly entertaining "Exorcist" rip-off that's a lot of fun! 3 stars
7/30/07 Indrid Cold Gabriel Byrne apparently has a corner on this market. Why wasn't he in The Da Vinci Code? 2 stars
6/05/07 David Pollastrini Saw it and have no memory of it so it must have sucked 2 stars
1/21/07 David A. About halfway thru, this horror tries to become inspirational. Weak ending. 3 stars
12/31/06 del Easily one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen. 1 stars
6/04/06 chris I like this movie and I think it's great. 5 stars
3/30/06 Anthony Feor i got stigmata from watching this 1 stars
9/09/05 aiza awesome.... i like the story itself.. 5 stars
8/12/05 Lily So boring. Couldn't wait for it to end. 1 stars
8/11/05 ES catholic priest stumbles on a terrible plot that proves protestants were right, oh no! 3 stars
5/30/05 yosef ilove creative dildoes 5 stars
10/03/04 Bobble Very Entertaining, gory, and far-fetched. Why all the fuss ? 4 stars
8/04/04 Mia I loved the movie and I believe that it was one of the greatest movies yet to come. 5 stars
6/18/04 Alex Bound to hit a few nerves, expect NO unbiased opinions of this movie 5 stars
5/22/04 John caveat emptor 1 stars
5/06/04 Alex Fucked up movie. The guy who derectied it was a wannabe and a dam cunt. It was offensive. 1 stars
3/17/04 Trevor Definitely one of the better films in the 90's, I hope Wainright will direct again soon! 5 stars
1/05/04 cwlg420 It was fun, and it P/O the pope 5 stars
10/17/03 Summer Very well done. Beautiful. 4 stars
8/07/03 Brandy I enjoyed this movie. Obviously, those that did not, didn't get it. 5 stars
7/26/03 Monster W. Kung A ridiculous, inane and ignorant wanna-be scary, wanna-be 'message' movie. Pathetic. 1 stars
5/02/03 shaban very nice movie 2 stars
3/17/03 Mahdy Mazahary That Was Impressive 5 stars
9/26/02 Lee Wall Stigmata takes an old idea and makes it new...inspired and inspiring. 5 stars
7/11/02 KMG Less Catholic propaganda and more plot please! 3 stars
7/01/02 R.W. Welch Curious mix of conspiracy and mysticism; squirrelly but not badly done. 3 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Badly written story. Not much punch. 2 stars
1/16/02 Jockstud Exorcist + B Movie Script + Enigma = Stigmata 3 stars
1/15/02 David A. Starts out as horror and ends up being inspirational--go figure 4 stars
12/07/01 Dominik Duprelle a Dayglow, MTV, abominatrix. Balls. 1 stars
8/05/01 badfish Hello?Hollywood?We dont need any more blasphemic, unbelievable pieces of elephant feces. 1 stars
4/01/01 Joe Bova If you are aroused by lots and lots of candles and dripping water, then this is your porn. 2 stars
3/24/01 Monster W. Kung Not as idiotic as End Of Days, but rather superficial and crappy nevertheless. 2 stars
2/12/01 Jake Awful. Pathetic attempt at horror. 1 stars
2/08/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Doesn't "suspend" your disbelief...kinda ties a noose and slips it around your neck... 3 stars
11/25/00 The Bomb 69 pleasantly surprised, wasn't expecting much but the plot was strong 5 stars
10/28/00 Mitja Podgajski The greates "antichurch" movie... i love it! 5 stars
9/05/00 Terrie Smith Byrne makes the film better than it really is; major disappointment. 3 stars
5/20/00 mellemel Pretty crappy sums it up 2 stars
5/19/00 Queer with a Brain Excellent material, poorly executed. Agnes of God better deals w/similar subject. 3 stars
4/25/00 Austin Ritter This film was an awesome look into the foolishess of the modern chuch. It makes you think. 5 stars
4/06/00 SID Entertaining, but that's it. Awful MTV-editing, and soundtrack. 3 stars
3/14/00 Chrissy T Gabriel Byrne was the only thing in this keeping me from laughing my ass off. Amusing trash 4 stars
3/08/00 Mr. Kramitall coulda been a great X-Files episode 3 stars
3/05/00 Kyle Broflovski I'm a Jew, so I'm scared of the Catholic Church, anyway 4 stars
2/11/00 James Woodman Scary (but inconsistant) shit. 4 stars
2/05/00 Frank Curigliano Dull and derivative 3 stars
1/28/00 puppyboy434@aol.com wild fun ride with catholic church as villans! 4 stars
1/26/00 Joel Harwood Freaky 5 stars
1/24/00 Italian Stallion. Great Directing...Patricia cant act for shit,ending sux..kepps u thinking though!! 4 stars
1/23/00 Phil Smith above average,value for cinema buck,quite enjoyable 4 stars
11/18/99 bishopj@pumpkinsfan.com Corgan rules, this film doesn't. BEst part was Arquette in the hot green top in the opening 2 stars
11/14/99 Mark Damn, catholicism is creepy, I need a new religion 3 stars
10/14/99 Lame-Oh lame-ass schlock 2 stars
10/10/99 Ben Ryan Interesting, Binding, keeps u watching to see what the Catholics will screw up next! 4 stars
10/04/99 Holliwud I liked , I think it's worth a look 4 stars
9/29/99 Weezal316 Creepy. . .Disturbing. . .A Brillant Film 4 stars
9/25/99 Costars Redundant, hyperbolic, gross bullshit 2 stars
9/24/99 XenoWolf Alright that scene was pointless o look bloods pouring out of wrists again 2 stars
9/24/99 Tom Such a waste of time and money, should have been called Stink-mata 1 stars
9/22/99 Fork Different movie, cool concept, execution somewhat flagrant. 3 stars
9/20/99 Gunhed All style, no plot makes for one piss poor symbolic piece 'o' crap. Give me the Omen. 1 stars
9/19/99 Admiral Crunch Right on with the review, rocksolidace. Nutcase movie to be exact. 2 stars
9/16/99 ChicoWildcat Take everyone else's word and don't pay to see this train wreck. 2 stars
9/14/99 Dennis Forcier Rent 'Life of Brian' instead. 1 stars
9/13/99 Chukls When it comes to zany nutball comedy, you can't go wrong here! 1 stars
9/13/99 Elijah Stigmata = Menstruation. Nuff said. 2 stars
9/12/99 janet It made me think. Effects and soundtrack great. 4 stars
9/12/99 mason good story , rotten film 1 stars
9/12/99 Mr Showbiz An incomprehensible mess. 1 stars
9/11/99 Dr. Worm Convoluted & excruciatingly gory, alternately inducing boredom and hyperkinetic convulsions 1 stars
9/11/99 Obi Wan Something different...I was expecting too much after TBWP...but it was worth watching 4 stars
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  10-Sep-1999 (R)


  20-Jan-2000 (R)

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