Gathering, The (DVD)

The Gathering DVD (click for larger image)Starring Christina Ricci, Kerry Fox, Ioan Gruffudd

Directed by Brian Gilbert

Distributed by Genius Products, LLC.

Five years ago a film was finished that featured Christina Ricci and Mr. Fantastic himself, Ioan Gruffudd. Then it sat and waited to be released. While it may have failed to come out theatrically, The Gathering managed to find the public via Wienstein and DVD. Can this buried film be unearthed with enough to offer today’s horror fans anything new?

A young wanderer, Cassie (Ricci), is struck by a car only to awaken with pale memories and the capacity to see segments of the past and future. Cassie is lucky enough to escape her accident with only a few cuts, and the woman who ran her down would like nothing more than to take her in for a few days. Cassie is well liked by the family and becomes very attached to the children of the home, especially a mute, timid child named Michael.

Cassie’s host, Marion (Kerry Fox), is married to Simon. Simon is an awfully busy man who has been borrowed by the Church to examine a recently discovered buried church. But there is something wrong with this house of worship; it is not a place to praise the lord but to gaze at the spectacle that is the death of Christ.

This discovery seems to jolt Cassie’s memory a little, and she starts to recognize pale citizens of the town who seem to watch everything … even gruesome accidents. What is their connection to her? Why do some of them appear in photographs and paintings of great tragedies all through the ages? Who let Christina Ricci wear a bra in this film?!?!

The Gathering DVD (click for larger image)One does not have to do a lot of digging to find a compelling story in The Gathering. The idea of a cursed group who wander the Earth to watch great tragedies has a depressing and haunting notion that sticks with you. They don’t do it for pleasure; they are just damned for not trying to stop these events. The focus never becomes something trivial like “are you practicing the right religion,” but it does ask that you take action when you see something wrong.

Somehow even with this great idea behind it, The Gathering never takes off into the air. The acting, cinematography, locations, and story are ripe with flavor and possibilities … too bad the execution leaves the reviewer hanging. There is so much going on in the story it is amazing that it never turns into one of those moments where the viewer says, “Hot damn! What is going to happen next?!”

It isn’t the lack of gore or sex. There are some decent shotgun deaths, and Ricci has plenty of sex appeal even if she isn’t shedding her clothes. So, what is it that is keeping the film down? It is tough to pinpoint, but the cause is there somewhere. Ah, wait! It was when the story started to turn from a religious thriller into a horror movie about a pissed off psycho with a shotgun and vendetta. That right there is the film’s Achilles heel.

I do not want to ruin the inner workings of the plot for anyone interested in The Gathering, but when the main villain turns out to be just some guy we’ve seen little of through the whole picture, the strings that were almost tied together come completely undone. It fails because it is something that is seen far too often in horror movies. The plot could have gone with religious fanatics as the big evil … why didn’t it? There was plenty to work with there: nutty Christians want to cover up the newly found landmark because it is evil so they sabotage the site right before it is to be revealed to the eager public. That feels like it would have worked better.

The Gathering DVD (click for larger image)The good news is that The Gathering does not suffer from any dated material even though it is half a decade old. In fact it surpasses The Omen 2007 by being religious and not tying in 9/11 for cheap shots. Hell, as a whole the film gains more points for feeling like a genuine religious thriller and never has to pound any sort of message into your skull. REDREDREDREDREDRED … sorry, Omen flashbacks.

Oh man! I cannot wait to tell you about the bitching extras. There is a quandary though since there are none. Somehow a film that sat on the shelf for five years didn’t have a single bit of fluff that could have been tacked on to make this DVD a little more worth the purchase. The movie itself may be intriguing, but once it’s done there’s nothing else there to keep it in your DVD player. Maybe they assume there was plenty of additional material left in the Bible for consumers to exploit. I feel cheated.

Fans of Ricci who did not know about this film will rejoice while others may just pass it by with little thought. Taking into consideration the subject matter and quality of the film, it deserved a better treatment than just being thrown out there to become bargain bin fodder. Pray for a double dip!

3 1/2 out of 5

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Mike Phalin

Mike Phalin is a contributing writer, reality television star and engineer.

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