The Order

"Weak"

The Order Review


The Catholic church has been a source of inspiration for a whole slew of scary movies -- everything from goosepimpling tales of possession like "The Exorcist" to fact-based stories of institutionalized horror like the current art-house hit "The Magdalene Sisters."

But mostly these scary movies have not been all that frightening. In fact, mostly they've been forgettably cheap-fright thrillers that make up their own mythology, then dress it up in cassocks and clerical collars for mock-credibility, much like "The Order."

This dark supernatural thriller about a brooding young man of the cloth (lumpy-featured heartthrob Heath Ledger) in the midst of a major crisis of faith (there's this girl, see...) is loosely based on an archaic con offered to ex-communicated sinners on their deathbeds in Medieval times: Someone calling himself a "sin eater" would perform a ceremony in which, for a price, he would assume all the dying person's transgressions and guilt so he or she would be free to enter Heaven.

The plot involves Ledger seeking answers to his mentor's death by tracking of one of these sin eaters (Benno Furmann, "The Princess and the Warrior"), an apparent immortal who has resurfaced in present-day Rome and is trying to recruit the conflicted priest to be his successor. But the narrative is convoluted with requisite romantic temptations (once-possessed sultry pixie Shannyn Sossamon fell for the priest when he performed her exorcism), apparent murders accompanied by Aramaic graffiti, an ominous cardinal (an effectively unsettling Peter Weller) with the air of a CIA-styled Vatican spook, a Satanic cult with all the typical black-hood and underground-lair accoutrements, and demons, voices and spirits which come out of the candle-lit woodwork with such regularity that Ledger barely shrugs at having to dispatch them back to hell with histrionic brimstone ballyhoo.

Sneaked into theaters by 20th Century Fox without a press screening -- which means the studio thinks it's crap -- "The Order" has some paranormal promise and soul-searching perspicacity buried under its hazy layers of portentous atmosphere. But as written and directed by the imaginative Brian Helgeland (adapter of "L.A. Confidential" and the highly-praised "Mystic River," due out next month), there are deeper themes and emotions that just don't get their due from the film's lightweight leads.

Ledger, Sossamon and Mark Addy, playing another clergyman and Ledger's best friend, were perfect for Helgeland's outlandishly abstract, 13th century jousting-with-a-'70s-rock-soundtrack action-comedy "A Knight's Tale." But reuniting them here wasn't smart casting. None of the actors seem to connect with their characters. Ledger doesn't perceptively struggle with the collapse of his belief system or even question his attraction to Sossamon -- something which Addy encourages as if the priesthood is just his buddy's day job.

"The Order" only shows its conceptual depth in the scenes that find Ledger face-to-face with the complex, seductively haunted and menacing Furmann for a dogmatic tug-of-war over the entitlement and administration of last rites.

But despite almost two years of studio-mandated recutting and reshoots that have left the film feeling elusive and unfocused, Helgeland -- who was very excited about the project when I interviewed him just before filming began in 2001 -- holds his themes together fairly well until a last-act twist that relies on the hackneyed notion of a veiled villain unmasking himself for no explored reason and verbosely explaining his entire evil plan to the hero.

I'd be curious to know what went down between my interview in 2001 and the release of this second-rate chiller. But even if Helgeland had been given final cut, "The Order" has an underlying shallowness that would have been hard to disguise.



The Order

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th September 2003

Box Office USA: $7.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $11.6M

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Baumgarten Merims Productions, N1 European Film Produktions GmbH & Co. KG

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 8%
Fresh: 5 Rotten: 55

IMDB: 5.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Alex Bernier, as Mara Sinclair, as William Eden, as Thomas Garrett, as Driscoll, Francesco Carnelutti as Dominic, as Apathetic Bishop, Paola Emilia Villa as Sister Marie, Giulia Lombardi as Little Girl, Mirko Casaburo as Little Boy

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.