Bless the Child (R) No Rating

Review Date: August 11th, 2000

Pity the child who faces 6-year-old Cody's kind of peer pressure: Join a Satan-worshipping cult -- or else.


Psychiatric nurse Maggie O'Connor (Kim Basinger) raises her drug-addicted sister's baby, who grows up to be a girl with "special" gifts, like the ability to rock a dead bird back to life. When Cody turns 6, her mother returns to claim her. The trouble is, mom is now married to Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), leader of a Satanic cult masquerading as a self-help group. Stark wants Cody to use her powers for the "dark side," and will kill her if she refuses. Aunt Maggie enlists the aid of FBI agent John Travis (Jimmy Smits) to help her track down and save Cody.


Basinger 's passive bearing and scrubbed-down glamour seem out of place in the dingy New York settings. When Stark's snarling teenage-runaway groupies attack her, they seem as angry at her smooth blond coif as anything else. Sewell does what he can with lines like "death would be a kinder fate" and "she will be ours" (this last line uttered while practically shaking his fist at the heavens). Vastly underused is Smits, whose all-talk-and-no-action FBI agent wouldn't have lasted a day in "NYPD Blue's" precinct.


Although director Chuck Russell captures a rich, textured look and lays on the ghoulish special effects (a river of red-eyed rats, ominous whispers, wraithlike demons), "Bless the Child" doesn't generate any real chill. It's not helped by the script, which throws in every clich‚ possible about angels, demons, hellfire and brimstone. There's no avoiding comparison with "The Sixth Sense," the success of which surely must have put some heat under this project. Unfortunately, it's a little too cooked.

Bottom Line

Think of it as a haunted house at Halloween: If all you want is hackneyed themes and staged surprises, you'll enjoy the ride.


Starring Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Rufus Sewell, Ian Holm and Angela Bettis.

Directed by Chuck Russell. Produced by Mace Neufeld. Written by Clifford Green and Ellen Green. Released by Paramount.