Combustible Celluloid
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With: Guy Pearce, Vadhir Derbez, Keith David, Stephen Lang, Robin Bartlett, Brady Jenness, Hannah Alline, Heath Freeman, Chris Galust
Written by: Justin P. Lange
Directed by: Justin P. Lange
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, disturbing images and some language
Running Time: 87
Date: 03/26/2021

The Seventh Day (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Rites and Wrongs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This horror movie attempts to put a new spin on the old exorcism genre, and it certainly has some thoughtful moments, but the scares are sadly nonexistent and the storytelling is all too predictable.

As it begins, young Peter studies with Father Louis (Keith David) to become an exorcist. But while trying to help a demon-possessed boy, Father Louis is killed. Years later, grown-up Father Peter (Guy Pearce) is scarred by the incident — he watched helplessly as the boy's skin burned — and has begun training new exorcists.

He's teamed with Father Daniel (Vadhir Derbez), a promising student with no experience in the field. Father Peter gives Father Daniel a test, teaching him how to identify evil, before visiting a young boy, Charlie (Brady Jenness), who has murdered his entire family. Father Daniel establishes that indeed Charlie is possessed by a demon, but can he find the demon's secret before it's too late?

The Seventh Day treats demon possession and exorcisms as mostly business as usual, and perhaps because of that, or perhaps despite it, the haunted voices, taunting demon-speak, floating objects, and other freaky stuff just seem dull. Even the movie's few jump-scares don't even register a blip. (What else would one expect when looking under the bed?) The characters are slightly more interesting, however.

Character actor Keith David starts things off well in the prologue as Father Louis, his eyes blazing and his voice commanding, but he leaves the picture far too soon. Stephen Lang is also on hand, almost unrecognizable, as a senior priest. Then, Father Peter (Pearce) and Father Daniel (Derbez) share some interesting conversations about the essence of their job and the nature of evil that make it seem as if The Seventh Day might be going somewhere.

But as the story progresses and it tries to unfold new developments, it becomes burdened by its clumsy foreshadowing, which gives everything away a little too easily.

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