Sunday, September 14, 2008

THE ORDER - skewered by its central conceit

THE ORDER features Heath Ledger and Mark Addy as two Catholic priests whose order specialises in exorcisms and other demon-related shenanigans. They go to Rome to investigate the suspicious death of the head of their order. Tagging along, is a mentally unstable girl called Mara who, of course, has the hots for the younger of the priests, Alex. The fact that they stumble upon, and the central conceit of the movie, is that sinners have discovered a loop-hole to get into heaven. Instead of repenting, they simply get a Sin Eater to literally ingest all their bad deeds so that they can ascend with a pure soul. Neat! However, the current Sin-Eater (Benno Fuermann) wants Alex (Ledger) to take over, goading him into eating the sin of suicide so that Mara (who by now he is boffing) can go to heaven. It all ends in rather bleak and messy manner.

Insofar as this movie works at all, it works as a thriller as we try and uncover the true allegiance of various shady characters. However, on the whole, it's a dismal failure. I think the problem has to do with the central concept of the Sin Eater. The CGI depiction of the sin-eating is ridiculous and totally undermines any sense of horror or peril. It doesn't help that writer-director Brian Helgeland (of LA CONFIDENTIAL fame) tacks on a completely unsuspenseful love story.

At any rate, the movie plays like a pastiche of THE EXORCIST or THE OMEN and is definitely one to avoid.

THE ORDER aka THE SIN EATER was released in 2003 and is available on DVD and on iTunes.

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