This is another film that belongs in the small category of Ďnot quite horror but close enoughí. Along with The Ninth Gate and End Of Days, Bless The Child draws itís horror links from devilish activities, and placing big name Hollywood stars in the lead roles.
Bless The Child is the story of Maggie Oí Conner, her sister Jenna leaves her to look after her child. Maggie then raises Cody where she notices that her child may have a problem, believing it to be some form of autism they think nothing of it. Jenna comes back to reclaim her child along with husband John, who surprisingly is the leader of a Satanic cult. He is after the child for she is the chosen one. Blessed at birth by the good lord she is destined to be a saint of some sort, unless evil can get its hands on her and bring her to the dark side so to speak.
Chuck Russell, of A Nightmare On Elm Street : Dream Warriors fame, shows us that he can handle doing horror of a slightly less traditional sense. Not that itís brilliant, it does have its flaws. The film doesnít quite know where it wants to be or what it wants to tell the audience. This is always the problem when it comes to crossing genres. Where as in End Of Days the parallels are easily drawn Bless The Child seems to be more Bless The Screenwriters. After all this was based on a book so they had parameters to stick too, if that were not the case who knows where Chuck Russell may have ended this one. Itís not till half way through the film that you realize that Codyís intentions are for good as itís been played menacingly up till then. This could have been deliberate but didnít seem to have a point, other than to confuse the audience. He did manage to pull in some nice shots and scenes; when Cody revives the bird shows that she is good not evil could not have been shot any better, and the rooftop confrontation between John and Cody was passionate and unnerving. Definitely the best scene is where John takes Cody to a senile, homeless man. Cody proves to John that she is pure. This is a very well thought out and filmed scene.
As mentioned before, these kinds of films have drawn in big name Hollywood actors to play the lead parts. Johnny Depp in The Ninth Gate and Arnold Schwarzenegger in End Of Days, both playing out of their field roles with rewarding outcomes. Not to be out done by the male population Kim Bassinger gives us a touching and caring performance as the desperate aunt doing whatís best for her niece. A little stale at times she makes up for in key scenes where her acting brings the film together. Mainly where her maternal instincts come in when defending Cody. Jimmy Smits as John Travis uses his demonic features to the best of his ability, flashing an evil smile here and there, which would compare to Freddy Kruegerís. Smits delivers his lines convincingly and the rooftop and old man scenes best show the too sides of the character and the actor.
The only gripe with the film is the CGI. At first glance the rats seem well created but on closer inspection they donít look quite as good as youíd have hoped. The demonic bats are slightly better but it shows that this film didnít have a huge budget but still managed to pull of some convincing enough work. Still, not as bad as the creatures in Pitch Black. A good (if clichťd) use of fire at the end helps overcome that.
I canít see anymore of these satanic natured films being made anytime soon. The three Iíve already mentioned are good films among themselves but still not good enough to set the box office on fire. Maybe in time one will come along but I donít think itís going to be based on any of them. Bless The Child is still worth a watch but only if you donít mind sacrificing the gore for a conspiracy plot. Watch it, even if itís just to see who will win between good over evil (although Iím sure you can guess).