The Movie Waffler New Release Review [DVD/Digital] - THE SEVENTH DAY | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [DVD/Digital] - THE SEVENTH DAY

the seventh day review
A novice priest is taken under the wing of a veteran exorcist.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Justin P. Lange

Starring: Guy Pearce, Vadhir Derbez, Stephen Lang, Keith David

the seventh day poster

We begin with a flashback as a title card tells us it's October 8th, 1995 in Baltimore, and the city is about to host a visit from The Pope; a time of great excitement for a deeply religious city.

Father Louis (a cameo-ing Keith David) prepares to perform an exorcism on a writhing possessed child that awaits in the next room. There is a poor novice priest he brings with him who is, of course, vulnerable and shaky in the face of the possessing demon.

When things go horribly wrong, it’s time for novice Father Peter to step up.

the seventh day review

The story jumps to present day New Orleans and we are in a meet-cute between young Father Daniel Garcia (Vadhir Derbez) and a wizened and bitter father Peter, now played by the sublime Guy Pearce. Father Daniel is here to help stem the encroaching cases of possessed individuals in need of exorcisms.

We have an explanation of the underground rogue exorcist priests led by Peter that Daniel is about to join, brought to you by the excellent Stephen Lang as his excellence the Archbishop, who adds much needed weight to a scene that could have been cringey.

Father Daniel has a ride along with Peter to the local homeless ‘tent city’ where a demon disguised as an itinerant woman scares him silly. Thanks to this scene, we enjoy a beautiful shot of tents blowing out from under a bridge that was visually arresting, and the horror in this scene is of the creeping-under-your-skin variety that I find most effective.

the seventh day review

Among the homeless they get a lead that turns into an investigation into the life of a possessed and murderous boy named Charlie - he has deep and troubling secrets that have opened him up to all sorts of corruption.

Of course, a Ouija board is involved and some precocious kids to help the two priests crack the case.

This feature from Justin Lange is disappointing given the calibre of talent involved and the moments of quality that shine through. The idea of a Training Day buddy cop/The Exorcist hybrid is a good one, and this film duly comes to life when concentrating on the old school/new school priests riff and clash. It is let down by a muddy plot and a few too many ‘exorcism movie’ cliches. I wish it worked harder at being gritty - a '70s Cruising vibe would have worked wonders here - but it feels a bit too ‘shiny’ at times, too modern.

the seventh day review

There are certainly things to enjoy. One scene lit by the strobe lights of gunfire is starkly memorable and in fact many of the director's artistic choices are impressive – the cinematography is frequently beautiful, it moves briskly, the soundtrack is pleasing and works well, and the dialogue between the priests feels more natural than you’d expect.

The acting across the board is good to really good. Pearce can play roles like this in his sleep and I lament the fact that he no longer seems to grace big screen fare, but he certainly elevates the material here and I am always happy to see such a great actor. He is never less than believable as the cynical, hard-living Father Peter, and is the ace in the hole for this movie.

More disappointing than bad, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy some of this film. I just could have enjoyed it all so much more.

The Seventh Day is on UK/ROI DVD and Digital from April 26th.

2021 movie reviews