Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Gathering (2002)

For a release that has been held back so long (it was finished in 2002!) and finally released direct-to-video, The Gathering ain't half bad. It kept me entertained throughout, the performances were great and the story was solid.

While walking through the English countryside near the small town of Ashby Wake, Cassie (Christina Ricci) is hit by a car and suffers amnesia. Close by, a 2,000 year old church, long buried in the English countryside, has just been uncovered and has a very unusual crucifixion scene. Instead of facing the congregation, a statue of Christ on the cross sits with its back to the church. Surrounding the altar are other statues of people, all facing Christ. This arrangement has some very ominous undertones, and the Catholic Church wants to keep it hush hush. Helping with the restoration of the church is Simon Kirkman, whose family takes Cassie in after his wife Marion hits her with a car. After her accident, Cassie begins having strange and bloody visions. She forms a close bond with the Kirkman's young son, Michael, who is still suffering after his real mother's death and also hears and sees strange things. Cassie soon finds out that the Kirkman's large house used to be a child's home run by the Catholic Church. It was shut down after the clergy were accused of molesting young boys. Simon also discovers some disturbing things about the figures in the church. Are Cassie's visions connected to the old church and the past of the children's home or is Cassie just suffering from a large knock to her noggin'?

From beginning to end, this movie never bored me. The unraveling mystery coupled with the three different stories (of Cassie, of the old church and of the history of the Kirkman estate) had me enthralled the entire time. The picture looks great, with large, sweeping vistas of the English countryside contrasted against the dark and claustrophobic church scenes. The director, Brian Gilbert, crafts some fine scenes of suspense and the actors, including Christina Ricci, all do a great job. My only complaint would be the predictability towards the end of the film and a few muddled plot points.

It's really a pity that this film took so long to be released, as it is quite good, especially compared to all the crap being released. This supernatural thriller reminded me of The Others with a touch of the Da Vinci Code. The figures and visions that Cassie sees, the religious secrecy and the town's dirty secret all made for a thrilling ride and The Gathering is a great way to spend an evening.

Order it on Amazon!

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