Horror Movie Review: The Seventh Sign (1988)

Will you die for him?”

The Seventh Sign is a 1988 American apocalyptic drama horror film written by Clifford and Ellen Green and directed by Carl Schultz. The title and plot reference the seven seals described in the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament of the Bible.

Around the world, unusual phenomena are occurring that bear resemblance to signs of the Biblical apocalypse. These include a mass death of sea life in Haiti and a devastating freeze in the Middle East. At each of these locations, a mysterious traveller opens a sealed envelope just prior to the event taking place. The Vatican tasks Father Lucci with investigating these events, though Lucci advises that they are all either hoaxes or have scientific explanations.

Concurrently to this, Abby Quinn (Demi Moore), a pregnant woman living in California, prepares for the birth of her child. Her husband, Russell (Michael Biehn), is a defense lawyer representing Jimmy Szaragosa (John Taylor). Szaragosa is a man with Down syndrome, who is on trial for murdering his incestuous parents. He claims that he did so because of God’s teaching. Jimmy is convicted of the crime. It’s established that Abby and Russell previously went through a pregnancy that failed in the very late stages, so there’s heightened concern around this second pregnancy.

For additional income, Abby and Russell rent a room to the mysterious traveller, who identifies himself as David Bannon (Jürgen Prochnow). Soon after, Abby begins to have terrible nightmares of a man resembling David being struck down by a soldier, who then asks “would you die for him?” of her. Abby also learns of the apocalyptic signs that have occurred. Combined with her nightmares and David’s suspicious behavior, she begins to worry that something terrible is taking place. She snoops through David’s papers and discovers an ancient note that leads her to believe that he intends to harm her child. When Abby confronts David about this, he tells her that God’s grace is empty and soon, no souls will remain to be given to newborn people. Abby panics and stabs David, only for him to shrug off the injury and claim that he “cannot die again.”

It becomes apparent that he is actually the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Abby’s nightmares are visions of his original crucifixion. We discover she is the reincarnation of Seraphia, the woman who offered Jesus water only to be turned away by Cartaphilus, who was Pilate’s porter who struck Jesus.

The signs of the apocalypse continue to unfold and eventually cause a giant storm. Abby connects with Avi (Manny Jacobs), a rabbinical student who helps her understand the events. Father Lucci (Peter Friedman), who has come to California as part of his investigation, finds her and hears her concerns. However, while meeting with Lucci, Abby spots a ring on his finger. It’s identical to the one that Cartaphilus wore and she learns that Lucci is Cartaphilus himself. Who was cursed to wander the Earth until Christ’s return to judge humanity. He intends to allow the apocalypse to take place so that his curse will finally be broken.

After fitting all the pieces together what will Abby do now? Is it too late to stop the apocalypse?

Seventh Sign is heavily religious film, a fact I didn’t realise before I was already well into it. Therefore, a lot of the references go over my head as I’m not religious. I’m sure some people who are religious would have found this movie spiritually moving but personally, I just watched it as a fictional tale. I’ve never heard of the “Guf” before but it’s an intriguing concept and makes for a good story. Although, all the religious speak was confusing and so I wasn’t clear on a whole lot until all the major pieces were fit together.

I’ve watched several faith based horror films before and seen it done better. Seventh Sign lacked any gore, scares or horror in any way, biblical horror maybe but nothing traditional. There’s nothing visually horrifying that you wouldn’t see in a war movie or a film about extreme weather.

The highlights were definitely Demi Moore’s performance (and also looks believably pregnant!), she gives a lot of raw emotion and so does Michael Biehn towards the end. It’s unfortunate I have little to say about Biehn’s and even Prochnow’s charcter as they were both very underused. The 80’s vibe and score help the movie immensely. Although the film is very well made it’s a bit too straight forward with its tale with little diversion in the plot.

Lastly, the ending is a happy one – although some might say not – similar to Ghost, which has always confused me because they’re going to Heaven so they’ll see them later, that’s not exactly a bad thing…

Over all, fascinating concept with a bland ride that could have easily been improved with gore or horror of any kind, carried through with its 80’s feel and raw emotional acting.




The Seventh Sign
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