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Bless The Child

A supernatural thriller that does for its genre what Battlefield Earth did for science fiction, Bless The Child stars Kim Basinger as a psychiatric nurse who becomes the caretaker of supernaturally gifted niece Holliston Coleman after her drug-addled mother (Angela Bettis) deserts her. Six years later, a seemingly rehabilitated Bettis returns to collect Coleman, accompanied by clean-cut new husband, former child star, motivational speaker, and satanic cult leader Rufus Sewell, who, needless to say, does not have the child's best interest at heart. Soon, Basinger learns that Satan is both real and extremely busy, and that his disciples don't flinch at doing nasty things like decapitating That Darn Cat star Christina Ricci (as a druggie goth mixed up with Sewell's cult), murdering children, and—gasp!—not returning e-mails. Bless The Child breaks new ground by featuring a Satanic cult leader with his own e-mail account, which comes into play when Basinger e-mails Sewell an earnest but ignored request to return Coleman as soon as possible. Godly cop and former seminary student Jimmy Smits is also tailing Sewell and his cadre of do-badders, but can't get close to him due to Sewell's strong political connections, a testament to the runaway success of the child-killing Satanic cult community's recent lobbying efforts. Executed with the subtlety and moral ambiguity of a late-night televangelist, Bless The Child is a bottom-feeding Exorcist knockoff that aims for sustained dread but manages only an air of campy stupidity. Laughably inept and silly when it tries to be scary, Bless The Child is so glaringly derivative that you might expect "Tubular Bells" to chime in at any moment. It wants more than anything to make Satan seem formidable, but Bless The Child succeeds only in making the Prince Of Darkness (who turns in a brief, CGI-assisted cameo) look more ridiculously implausible than ever.

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