Oh, there are so many things wrong with this movie.
First, it is very badly written. The story is not good and the dialogue is not good. It is about a “sin eater” who performs a relic ceremony from a discredited Catholic sect that expiates the sins of a dying person with a ritual that includes eating a piece of bread that was placed on the person’s chest just before death. This provides many opportunities for boring and pretentiously portenteous dialogue that sounds like a bad parody: “You surpass even the Jesuits in your heretical search for knowledge,” or “Knowledge is the enemy of faith,” or “We’re the Catholic Pete, Linc, and Julie.” Yep, we can always use a “Mod Squad” reference in what is supposed to be a dark and disturbing gothic thriller.
Second, it does not look good. Scenes are either washed out or too dark. Settings feature the typical crumbling manuscripts and dripping candles, a decaying mansion, an underground lair, a graveyard at midnight. A pair of silent children are supposed to look threatening, but they just look like a Keene painting. The female lead (Shannyn Sossamon as Mara) wears awful clothes that look like they were made from 1960’s bedsheets.
Third, there is no energy to move the narrative along, dissapating any tension and providing much too much time to dwell on the logical inconsistencies.
Fourth, there is a priest in this movie whose affectionate nickname for another priest is “Spaghettio.” I believe that is all that needs to be said.
Parents should know that the movie has a lot of peril and violence, some very graphic, including suicide and murder. There is brief strong language. There is a moderately explicit sexual situation with some nudity. Some audience members will be offended by the portrayal of the Catholic church and the behavior of the priests and a cardinal. Some may also be offended by the idea of the sin eaters, believing that sins should only be expiated through sincere atonement and not through some spiritual “get out of jail free” card.
Families who see this movie should talk about their notion of expiation of sin. How will Alex’s life differ from William’s? Families might also want to talk about Father Tom’s view of the importance of laughter.
Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate The Name of the Rose.