Stigmata on dual-format DVD/Blu-ray

Monday, 24 October 2016 23:00 Written by 

Stigmata - out now on dual-format Blu-ray and DVDPatricia Arquette (“True Romance”, Medium) stars as Frankie Paige, a young and carefree hairdresser whose life is turned upside down by the spontaneous infliction of a series of horrific wounds. These injuries, the stigmata, echo those suffered by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Frankie cannot understand why she is suffering, but religious investigator Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne – “The Usual Suspects”, Vikings) may have the answers.

A swift resolution is critical because Frankie’s mental as well as physical condition worsens with each new attack, and she starts behaving like she is not herself. Part supernatural horror, part conspiracy thriller, the film also stars Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, “Brazil”) as a powerful Catholic Cardinal and Nia Long (“Big Momma’s House”, The Divide) as Frankie’s devoted best friend. Rupert Wainright (“The Fog” remake) directs.

Arriving in the same year as Arnie’s “End of Days” and belonging to the same genre as “The Omen” and “The Exorcist”, “Stigmata” is quite successful in establishing its core mystery and encouraging the audience to want to see the story through to its conclusion. Frankie is a sweet, party-loving, not to mention atheistic woman who seems like the last person on Earth to be experiencing such dramatic, religion-oriented behaviour. This contrast is definitely one of the film’s strengths.

The growing desperation and apparent powerlessness of Frankie’s situation is clearly felt, and the increasing, morally cloudy involvement of the Catholic Church adds to the sense of danger.

The special effects and manner in which we witness the victim sustaining her wounds is highly stylised and shocking both in the quick cutting and the overlaying of what is theoretically occurring. By this I mean when Frankie experiences the symptoms of having chunky nails hammered through her wrists, the editing cuts between images of the nails going in and bloody, nail-less holes suddenly appearing in Frankie’s wrists, all to the chilling sound of hammer on metal and screaming.

Arquette, Byrne and the other cast members are fine, though I never really felt much chemistry between the two stars. I would also have preferred a bit more involvement by Pryce and his religious cohorts; their involvement only really makes itself felt very near the end of the film and is a wasted opportunity to layer in more complexity to a movie that has a relatively light-weight plot.

Some of the imagery is also a little heavy-handed and sometimes resembles a trashy 90s’ music video rather than a motion picture. There is a bizarre abundance of dripping water in virtually every scene, and the director cannot resist slowing or reversing the flow of time for visual effect. The visual gimmick gets old fast.

Whilst not in the same league as some of its fellow genre entries, “Stigmata” is still quite a fun movie and the conspiracy aspect fits in well with the cinematic release of Dan Brown’s latest effort, “Inferno”.

Special features include:

  • 1080p High Definition transfer (Blu-ray)
  • 5.1 and uncompressed stereo soundtrack options
  • Isolated music and effects track
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing Feature-length audio commentary with director Rupert Wainwright
  • Divine Rights: The Story of Stigmata
  • Deleted scenes
  • Alternate ending
  • Music Video – “Identify” by Natalie Imbruglia
  • Original theatrical trailer

The ‘Divine Rights’ featurette starts off being a documentary about the stigmata phenomenon before warping into a making-of. The alternate ending is interesting but does not work as well - for me at least. The 1080p picture quality is fair, certainly better than DVD but not as sharp as some Blu-ray release.

“Stigmata” (1999) is out now on dual-format DVD and Blu-ray (two discs), courtesy of Eureka. The main feature has a running time of 103 minutes approx., carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £17.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

Last modified on Friday, 28 October 2016 16:59

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