Time is running out. Revelation is at hand – rivers running red with blood, a desert is found shrouded in ice and the moon has turned crimson. Six signs of the Apocalypse have come to pass. Now only one woman can stop The Seventh Sign. Demi Moore stars as Abby Quinn, a young woman who discovers that she and her unborn child play a terrifying part in the chain of events destined to end the world. Already troubled with a difficult pregnancy, Abby grows more distraught when she and her husband rent their studio apartment to David, a mysterious drifter. Now submerged in violent metaphysical experiences, Abby realizes that David is carrying out the mystical prophesies of “Judgement Day,” and that she has been chosen as the instrument of The Seventh Sign. But can one woman alone stand between the wrath of God and the future of mankind?
The Seventh Sign 7.5
eyelights: Jurgen Prochnow. the religious tie-ins. the relative opaqueness of the script. Jack Nitzsche’s score.
eyesores: the last act.
“So much misery, man against man. They kill each other. They have no faith. I used to think the world would change. But it hasn’t.”
‘The Seventh Sign’ is a film that I first saw in my late teens. For some reason, it has made a mark on me – perhaps because it was amongst the first few horror films I’d seen, perhaps because of its theme: the End of Days, or Armageddon. I’m not exactly sure how often I’ve seen it, but it’s been a handful of times over a couple of decades, and it remains a picture that enjoy, even now, some 25 years later.
An early starring vehicle for Demi Moore (i.e. pre-‘Ghost’), it also features the enigmatic Jurgen Prochnow and the ever-photogenic Michael Biehn as costars. Peter Friedman rounds up the principal cast as a priest trying to connect the dots between these apocalyptic signs.
Frankly, there’s very little that I can say about the picture without ruining the mood it tries so hard to set, so I will leave it at this:
After a few extremely unusual disasters take place around the world, religious leaders and some scholars believe that the Rapture is nigh. When a mysterious linguist rents out a room above her garage, a young mother-to-be begins to think that he may be involved in some sinister dealings – including the afore-mentioned disasters as well as some local murders. Disturbed by his presence, she tries to find out the truth about him.
From that point on, she and her husband, a lawyer who is trying to prevent the execution of a young Down Syndrome man (who murdered his parents for religious reasons), will struggle with the shadowy presence of their new tenant. The man is there for a reason, however, and as she begins to unfold the mystery surrounding him, she jeopardizes not just her own life, but that of her unborn child.
Honestly, I still love the opening sequences with Prochnow breaking seals at various locales. There’s just something eerie about someone tainting places with his presence in such a way, just by showing up and making a small gesture. And the things that happen (an ice storm in the middle of the desert, at the emplacement of the former city of Sodom, the boiling of the seas on the coastline of an African country, and the bloody waters in a South American country) all produce a chill down one’s spine.
Jurgen Prochnow is awesome at balancing creepy and sympathetic. He plays it so close to his chest that you don’t really know where his character stands in all of this – which adds greatly to the picture because it leaves the audience uncertain as to whether or not he’s on the heroine’s side or not. On the one hand he can offer expressions of warmth, familiarity, and on the other he can be cold, staring, stalking.
Michael Biehn is always cool to see on screen. He’s not the most convincing actor, but he’s congenial and immediately likeable. He’s good here. Of course, the film in some ways belongs to Demi, who does an okay job of portraying Abby. I can’t remember how good of an actress she became over the years, but she was merely passable here, displaying no signs of her impending stardom.
I like ‘The Seventh Sign’ because it ties together a bunch of Christian mythology into an apocalyptic tale that has enough mystery and twists to keep people from divining everything ahead of time. Coupled with an excellent atmosphere and an appropriately moody score by Jack Nitzsche, it weaves a solid enough late-night picture.
I’m not so sure about the religious aspects of the picture – if the writers did their homework and based this on actual passages from the Bible and Hebrew texts, however. It all ties in the picture nicely, but a quick Wiki search of the Book of Revelations suggests that the prophecies don’t seem to correspond exactly to the ones in the film.
Then again, religion being what it is, it may be a matter of interpretation. For me, it was suitable enough.
One critic has compared ‘The Seventh Sign’ as a cross between ‘The Omen‘ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘. In some ways, that is particularly apt – their moods and themes are indeed similar. However, that’s not to say that ‘The Seventh Sign’ masters these elements like those horror classics did. Hardly. But it does a serviceable job of it and is solid enough that it still holds up nicely now.
Date of viewing: October 6, 2013