If you read my reviews at all, you know I am a horror fan. One of my favorite sub-genres is religious horror. The Exorcist, The Seventh Sign, The Rite, The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I love them, can’t get enough of them. I even like the ones that no one else seems to like. End of Days. The Last Exorcism. The Devil Inside. One of the lesser known religious horror flicks from the late 90s that I really dig is Stigmata starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne and it has just arrived for its debut on Blu-ray.
Father Andrew Kiernan (Byrne) is a priest from the Vatican tasked with investigating miracles for authenticity. When an American woman named Frankie Paige (Arquette) starts to show signs of stigmata, the wounds of Christ manifesting out of thin air, Father Kiernan visits her and cares for her as the condition worsens. Together they attempt to figure out the reason Frankie has been chosen and what it all means.
Director Rupert Wainwright has only really directed one other high profile film, the remake of The Fog, and that is a shame as Stigmata showed a lot of promise for the man’s talent. The film has a great look, nice cinematography and strong performances by Byrne and Arquette. And the story is an intriguing one. Stigmata itself is a mystifying affliction and one that is not tackled often in film. Arquette does a fantastic job of conveying the horror and anguish of someone that this would be happening to, especially someone who is not religious. And Byrne, who is often understated, is haunting as a religious man whose job it is to disprove supposed religious events. He plays the inner conflict very well and makes for an interesting and relatable character in Father Kiernan. Stigmata may not be the best horror film, or even the best religious horror film you have ever seen but it is still an intriguing and entertaining flick with a lot to love.
The new Shout Factory transfer looks great and is a nice upgrade from the previous DVD editions of the film. And for a 90s catalog title they have managed to assemble a nice selection of special features for this release as well including an audio commentary with the director, a documentary about the phenomenon of stigmata, a making of the film, a music video, deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a trailer. Not too shabby. Stigmata is definitely worth a look.