Bless the Child
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Paramount Pictures and Icon Productions. Produced by Mace Neufeld, directed by Chuck Russell. Visual effects supervised by Joel Hynek. Screenplay by Tom Rickman, Clifford Green, and Ellen Green from a novel by Cathy Cash Spellman.

This film was marketed as a horror movie with elaborate special effects, and the review in the local newspaper dismissed it as worthless trash. So I stayed home. But a believing brother saw it and liked it so much that he saw it again, dragging me along. Later I purchased the DVD, which is loaded with interviews and a full-length commentary by the director and visual effects supervisor.

This is a movie for Christians, and would probably be lost on anyone who does not know their New Testament. It pits a vulnerable child, Cody (HollistonColeman) and her aunt Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) against a very evil, satanic cult run by Eric Stark (played by the brilliant British actor Rufus Sewell). Other impressive performances include Jimmy Smits, who plays an ex-priest, cultic crime consultant for the police and Dimitra Arlys (remember as the deadly hit woman in The Sting?) as a demonic accomplice.

The story is based on a plot device that is, quite frankly, an absurd heresy. Yet, without it, there would be no plot and no movie. There is a Christmas Star, the first since Bethlehem, and a "special" child is born. Just how this child might be special is not explained, other than to say that she "will lead many people to Christ." Satan knows the birth date of the child, but not the identity-so the movie begins with a series of child abductions and murders that is referred to as the "slaughter of the innocents" (Mt. 2:16). And this is one of many contact points between the film and the New Testament.

The nature of the evil empire in this film is particularly remarkable in modern context. It presents itself to the public as the "New Dawn," a new-age center with a slick marketing, a charismatic leader (Sewell), a long list of social accomplishments, and an active recruiting program purporting to help people find power. And "power" is the sole motivation of the evil forces in the film--they want to abduct the child in the hope that they might "turn" her to serve evil (Mt. 4:8-9). In the good vs. evil struggle that follows, occasional angels appear in street attire to encourage or assist when all hope appears to be lost (I counted three).

This is an excellent film for post-viewing discussion among Christians. It is fun to locate the New Testament parallels, to talk about the way that evil is manifest in modern cultic America, and to review how those on the side of good receive occasional heavenly help. One of the redemptive themes, of course, is the transformation of Maggie, who moves from nominal ex-Catholicism into faith. There are even healings at critical points in the story, administered by Cody as she reveals her compassionate nature and discovers her special gifts.

I marvel that Hollywood actually made a movie for the Christian market. I can only assume that they bought a bill of goods. I any case, take advantage of their error! Buy or rent this film.

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