“WILL YOU DIE FOR HIM??” That’s the question many people in the Catholic or Christian religion ask folks when it comes to believing in God or Jesus Christ. In 1987, writers Ellen (Bless The Child (1987) and Clifford Green (Spacecamp (1986) wrote a script about a pregnant woman who has to deny the apocalypse from happening, foretold in the Bible. Directed by Carl Schultz, The Seventh Sign was released in 1988 starring Demi Moore (Ghost (1990) and Michael Biehn (The Terminator (1984).
So what’s it about? Abby Quinn (Moore) is expecting her first child on February 29th (which is important later) with her lawyer husband Russell (Biehn). Russell has a doozy of a case he’s on. He’s tasked with defending Jimmy Szaragosa (John Taylor – The Ringer (2005) a young man born with Down Syndrome who had murdered his parents in the name of God because they were brother and sister. Russell wants Jimmy to plead insanity to avoid the death penalty, but Jimmy says God will take care of him.
While that is going on, a man named David Bannon (Jurgen Prochnow (In The Mouth of Madness (1994) calls up Abby about a room to rent. But wait, there’s more! Around the world, bizarre disasters are occurring. A village in Africa has dead fish washing ashore fried to a crisp while a town in Israel in the middle of the desert is buried under a mountain of snow. Apparently, the village was built over the remains of the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah!
For those that never read the Catholic/Jewish/Christian bible, you’ll be lost on a lot of stuff mentioned in The Seventh Sign. For those that have, there will be a lot of references to it. If you don’t know the story, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in the Old Testament for their homosexuality and debauchery by angels of God. For the movie’s purposes, the town built on its remains was just buried under snow and ice. Meanwhile, old David starts making his new housemates nervous when he talks about the Hebrews believing babies are born from the Hall of Souls (or the Guf) allowing a soul to enter a child’s body. The problem is the Guf is just about empty….I hate when that happens.
Next up is Father Lucci (Peter Friedman – Single White Female (1992) who is brought in by the Vatican to assess the situation. He brilliantly deducts that the prophecies of the apocalypse are coming true and the Vatican laughs at him. Meanwhile, Abby snoops through David’s stuff and finds really old newspapers, parchments, and other documents. One is in a language she thinks is Hebrew so she hits up a local synagogue for some answers. The Rabbi freaks completely out when he sees the parchment and tells her to get out of there. A child nearby says the language is Malachim, a Hebrew dialect that hasn’t been used since the middle ages. The numbers 2-29 don’t mean Abby’s due date, it means chapters 2:29 of the Book of Joel in the bible…Judgement Day.
Without giving away the rest of the plot, I’ll be brief. Abby has to stop the apocalypse once and for all or else we’re all doomed. Now for The Seventh Sign itself, it’s a wonderfully acted movie. Everyone does a great job in the roles they’re in. The problem with the movie is the writing. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re well-versed in the bible, you’re going to know exactly what is going on and you’ll love the twists and turns. If you haven’t read the bible, you’re going to be lost quite a few times. Another problem is if you’re actually very religious (what the hell are you doing here?), you may be offended by some of the stories and ways they’re presented in the movie. Still, the acting, the production, and the pacing are actually pretty good.
When it was released, The Seventh Sign grossed $18 million and received mostly negative reviews. Keep in mind the time period though. In 1988, slashers were the king of the genre. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, Critters, Gremlins, and various knockoffs dominated the horror/suspense genre in the mid to late 80’s. A cerebral movie such as The Seventh Sign wasn’t going to set box office records compared to the brainless fun of a Friday the 13th movie.
Still, if you actually want to think, and get sucked into a story, this movie is for you. Buy it, rent it, stream it, it’s definitely worth a look.