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"STIGMATA"
(1999) (Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Extreme Heavy *Extreme Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Mild Extreme Minor Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Mild Mild Mild Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Horror: Assigned by the Vatican to investigate religious phenomena, a priest tries to uncover the truth behind an atheist being cursed by recurring crucifixion wounds similar to those suffered by Christ.
PLOT:
Frankie Paige (PATRICIA ARQUETTE) is a 23-year-old Pittsburgh hairstylist who works in an establishment as likely to pierce or tattoo some part of one's body as give a haircut. Relatively happy with her boyfriend and another good friend and fellow coworker, Donna (NIA LONG), Frankie lives an unremarkable, if not quite mainstream life.

Yet things drastically change after she receives a rosary from her vacationing mother. It turns out her mom unknowingly bought it from a street urchin who himself just stole it from a dead Brazilian priest's coffin. Suddenly Frankie is afflicted by stigmata, crucifixion wounds resembling those suffered by Christ. While hospital workers, who treat her nail-like puncture wounds to the wrists, believe her to be epileptic, a priest who witnesses a later, dramatic crucifixion-like event on a subway car thinks differently and contacts the Vatican.

As such, Cardinal Daniel Houseman (JONATHAN PRYCE) sends Father Andrew Kiernan (GABRIEL BYRNE), a renowned, scientist/priest to investigate the case. Having just returned from the Brazilian church where the suspicious rosary was stolen and a statue bled from its eyes, Kiernan travels to Pittsburgh where he meets Frankie.

Although he immediately dismisses her symptoms due to her being an atheist, her continually developing wounds and subsequent possessed behavior make him think otherwise. His suspicions are further aroused when Houseman abruptly tries to close the case after Frankie writes some mysterious passages in a long lost biblical language.

From that point on, and with the aid of Petrocelli (RADE SERBEDGIA), an older excommunicated priest with an intimate knowledge of what the Church may be frightened of, Kiernan tries to figure out exactly what's happening while also being concerned with saving Frankie's life, particularly since no one has ever received all five of the stigmatic wounds.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into horror films they might, but it doesn't seem likely this film will garner much interest amongst teens.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For intense violent sequences, language and some sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • PATRICIA ARQUETTE plays a 23-year-old Pittsburgh hairstylist who finds herself afflicted with stigmata (despite being an atheist) and being possessed by some sort of spirit (that partially causes her to attempt to seduce a priest). Before that, she smokes and drinks (and briefly has sex with her boyfriend) and uses some strong profanity.
  • NIA LONG plays her best friend who also drinks, smokes and briefly uses strong profanity.
  • GABRIEL BYRNE plays a priest/scientist hybrid who finds his beliefs and convictions being tested after encountering Frankie's paranormal religious-based phenomenon.
  • JONATHAN PRYCE plays the corrupt Vatican official who will do whatever it takes to prevent the truth about Frankie's condition from getting out.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated horror film. To younger viewers and those with strong Catholic beliefs, the scenes featuring the stigmatic attacks and related possessed behavior may be unsettling or downright frightening. Many of those scenes feature a woman receiving crucifixion-like wounds -- most of which are quite bloody -- from an unseen force. Other non-lethal violence also occurs.

    Due to the subject matter, some viewers may be offended by its attack on Catholicism (or at least some of its priests) and having an atheist receiving stigmata (normally reserved for those with deep religious convictions). Profanity is extreme with at least 5 "f" words being used, along with a handful of other profanities and religious phrases.

    A sexual encounter is suggested through a series of brief, inter-cut scenes, and non-explicit parts of a nude woman are seen in an underwater bathtub shot. Meanwhile, a woman tries to seduce a priest and some mild sexually related comments are made.

    Beyond all of that there's some brief drinking and smoking. Should you still be concerned about the content and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at the listed content.

    For those concerned with repetitively flashing bright lights, a few instances of that occur in a scene set in a club.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Frankie and others drink in a club.
  • Kiernan and another priest have wine.
  • Some of Frankie's friends have drinks in a club, and when Frankie arrives, she and Donna have double shots of liquor.
  • Kiernan drinks a beer.
  • Frankie and Kiernan have beer.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a dead body in a coffin (but other than being dead, it's not gory or bloody).
  • We see blood running from a statue's eyes (and then see Kiernan collecting some of it).
  • Some unseen force suddenly attacks Frankie in her bathtub, flailing her body about in the water. As blood then mixes with the water, we see flashes of nails being pounded through a person's wrists as well as bloody wounds on Frankie's arms.
  • In the emergency room, an attending physician removes the bandage from Frankie's arm and we see a very bloody wound as well as blood spurting out from it. Later, we see the sewn up, but still rather gory looking wound.
  • We see some water diluted with blood on the floor next to Frankie's bathtub.
  • On a subway car and facing another stigmata attack, we see that Frankie is being whipped by an invisible force to the point that she has bloody lacerations on her back as well as more bloody wrists. Later in the hospital, we see people tending to these bloody whip marks.
  • We see some blood filling a syringe as a sample is taken from Frankie's arm.
  • At various times during the movie we see bloodstained bandages on Frankie's arms as well as Kiernan tending to her wounds with drops of blood falling into the bowls of water he's using to treat her.
  • We see paintings and drawing of a bloodied Christ as well as photos of alleged stigmatic sufferers who have bloody wounds.
  • Frankie's face is bloody after another attack.
  • We see Frankie's bloody tennis shoes after yet another attack (and she's also bloody). Later, we see the bloody wounds on her bare feet.
  • Kiernan has some blood on his face after Frankie roughs him up a bit.
  • Frankie slashes her own arm with a knife (leaving bloody cuts) and then pushes the knife completely through her arm (resulting in even more blood).
  • Blood runs from Frankie's eyes and drips from her arms.
  • Later, we see more blood on Frankie's face.
  • We see the original bleeding statue once again.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some viewers -- and particularly Catholics -- may be offended by the film's treatment of religion in that a) an atheist receives stigmata, b) many of the Vatican officials are corrupt -- even to the point of being murderous and c) a woman tries to seduce a priest and partially succeeds (they kiss, but she is under the influence of being possessed).
  • A boy steals a dead priest's rosary (from the body) and then sells it to Frankie's mother.
  • Frankie walks up to a nun on a subway, rips off her cross and throws it across the floor.
  • Frankie states "Believing in God is a f*cking terrifying thought."
  • A person tries to kill another person for the benefit of the former.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • While the film may be unnerving or downright frightening to younger viewers or those with strong Catholic beliefs, most adults probably won't find many, if any, of the scenes to be particularly spooky (particularly due to the MTV approach the film takes).
  • We see a dead body in a coffin (but other than being dead, it's not gory or bloody) and then see blood running from a statue's eyes (both accompanied by ominous music). Then, all of the candles in a church suddenly blow out, but later mysteriously start burning again.
  • Some unseen force suddenly attacks Frankie in her bathtub, flailing her body about in the water. As blood then mixes with the water, we see flashes of nails being pounded through a person's wrists as well as bloody wounds on Frankie's arms.
  • In the emergency room, an attending physician removes the bandage from Frankie's arm and we see a very bloody wound as well as blood spurting out from it.
  • Frankie rushes out through traffic when she see what appears to be a woman dropping her baby to the busy street where it's almost hit by an oncoming car.
  • Frankie has another stigmatic attack on a subway train that goes out of control and throws its riders about and to the floor. We then see that Frankie is being whipped by an invisible force to the point that she has bloody lacerations on her back.
  • Frankie has another attack in a club and her face is consequently bloody.
  • Frankie turns around (looking pretty bad with her eyes nearly rolled up into her head) and talks to Kiernan in a deep, somewhat demonic voice.
  • Frankie has another attack during an outdoor lunch (and during which we see images of nails being driven through feet).
  • Possessed, Frankie repeatedly pushes or throws Kiernan around her apartment, up against walls and through a glass shower door. She then holds a knife at him, asking how his faith is now (right before slashing and then completely penetrating her own arm with a knife). As her bed slides around the room, she suddenly levitates and then flips up into a floating crucifixion position.
  • Houseman starts to perform what appears to be an exorcism on Frankie with her writhing on the bed and paintings falling from the walls and a fireplace suddenly burning brighter. It turns out, however, that he's intent on killing her and starts to suffocate her. Kiernan then arrives and fights with him while flames from the fireplace engulf the room.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Used by Frankie to threaten Kiernan before slashing and completely penetrating her own arm with it.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • We see people with or getting tattoos or multiple body rings (nose, etc…) and Frankie appears to have a pierced navel.
  • We see that Frankie's sitting up on the top corner ledge of a building, high above the streets below.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • The sound of a small flock of birds suddenly taking flight may startle some viewers.
  • Some unseen force suddenly attacks Frankie in her bathtub.
  • A steam valve suddenly blows in a darkened alley.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful and scary music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song had a lyric that sounded like "I do my drugs…" and another had what sounded like "Go to hell…"
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 5 "f" words, 1 "s" word, 2 hells, 1 ass and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Oh Jesus" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see Frankie in her bra.
  • We see brief images of Frankie and her boyfriend fooling around. Both take off their shirts and we then see her on top of him. Some quick sexually related shots follow (that may contain momentary nudity, but we didn't note any) and we then see the two of them lying in bed together after sex.
  • After Frankie tells Donna that she got sick that morning, Donna asks if she's "late" and Frankie says that she is (although it turns out she's not pregnant).
  • Some hookers on the street ask Kiernan if he's "looking for a good time" while one suggestively adjusts her clothed breasts at him and another lifts her shorts to reveal most of her bare butt. When he indicates he's a priest, one of them states that they'll give him "the Vatican discount."
  • As Frankie takes a bath, we see an underwater camera shot that pans by her body (showing part of her bare butt, as well as part of her breasts that are partially hidden by her arm).
  • We see some buxom mannequins dressed in low-cut outfits in Frankie's hairdressing shop.
  • Frankie tells Kiernan that she's never understood a man who's never made love to a woman. He replies that he wasn't born a priest causing her to ask him if he misses it. He responds that he does since he's human, but then adds that he's made a choice.
  • After Frankie comes on to Kiernan, the two briefly kiss. When he stops, she asks if whether he took a vow to be dead from the neck down.
  • SMOKING
  • Frankie smokes several times, while Donna smokes once and other miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • Kiernan delivers a carton of cigarettes to another priest who's helping him.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Stigmata and other religious phenomena.
  • The way in which the Catholic church is portrayed (or at least some of its officials).
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some unseen force suddenly attacks Frankie in her bathtub, flailing her body about in the water. As blood then mixes with the water, we see flashes of nails being pounded through a person's wrists as well as bloody wounds on Frankie's arms.
  • On a subway car and facing another stigmatic attack, we see that Frankie is being whipped by an invisible force to the point that she has bloody lacerations on her back.
  • Frankie has another attack in a club and her face is consequently bloody. She then races out into the street causing cars to crash into one another. We then see that windows in an alley are breaking on their own and observe Frankie etching something into a car hood with a broken bottle.
  • Frankie has another attack during an outdoor lunch (during which we see images of nails being driven through feet).
  • Possessed, Frankie repeatedly pushes or throws Kiernan around her apartment, up against walls and through a glass shower door. She then holds a knife at him, asking how his faith is now (right before slashing and then completely penetrating her own arm with a knife).
  • A man starts to strangle Frankie, but Kiernan pulls him off and throws him to the floor. The two then struggle with Kiernan throwing the man to the floor and then driving him back against a wall.



  • Reviewed September 7, 1999 / Posted September 10, 1999

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