Released: 28th January
Seen: 3rd August
A good staple of the horror genre, one that has been done time and time again, is the Exorcism movie. You know the drill, young person gets possessed by demon and ends up tied to a bed, an old priest and a young priest turn up to yell bible verses at them, there’s a little vomit and occasionally some magical torture until finally the demon is cast out and the child lives on. Basically, everyone saw The Exorcist way back in 1973 and decided they could do that too (except no one has ever come close to being even half as scary as The Exorcist). So, when I tell you that The Seventh Day is ANOTHER exorcism movie with nothing much of value to offer, just pretend to be shocked by that information.
The Seventh Day mostly follows Father Daniel (Vadhir Derbez) who was an apprentice exorcist under Father Louis (Keith David), however when an exorcism goes wrong and Father Louis dies dramatically our Father Daniel is reassigned to be the apprentice under the slightly more casual and carefree Father Peter (Guy Pierce). Under Father Peter’s teaching, Father Daniel learns how to be a better exorcist which he will need to be to exorcise the demon out of a child that has murdered both his parents. Oh the drama, oh the excitement… oh where is the drama and/or the excitement?
At this point in time we’ve seen so many iterations on The Exorcist that it takes something really special to stand out among the crowd and there is nothing special about The Seventh Day. Every scare is predictable, you can almost time when they’re going to make a loud sound or make something pop up out of nowhere because that’s meant to be scary (surprising someone is different than scaring them, if someone could forward that memo onto those who make these movies that would be fantastic) and there isn’t a single moment where anything even approaching tension can be found.
It doesn’t help that The Seventh Day starts with an actually promising idea, in the opening scene Father Louis is performing an exorcism and wraps his magic priest scarf around the face of a child who appears to stop breathing. At that second the mind wanders, maybe this will lead to something akin to The Exorcism of Emily Rose where this priest might be put on trial for the murder of a child they tried to help. There was potential in that second, hope for some new take… but no, no then The Seventh Day does what one expects and moves on, leaving Father Louis behind because not only can we not have that interesting concept to play with but we can’t even have Keith David around anymore because we don’t deserve nice things.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the actors aren’t OK, indeed Guy Pierce might be the best thing in the movie but only because Guy Pierce is on that list of actors who are incapable of being anything less than completely compelling, even when he’s in boring garbage like this. There was potential to maybe explore issues of faith here, but they don’t. They just kind of move through The Seventh Day in a boring haze, comedically running into random possessed people on the way to deal with the main kid who they’re meant to be trying to save. It’s just so boring and dull.
Hell, it would even risk being interesting if maybe we spent more time with the possessed boy while he was in prison for murder but nope, he’s a B story and we don’t even get to care about him. You know why The Exorcist works as spectacularly as it does? Because that film took the time to let us as an audience get to know and love Regan before she became possessed and the actual possession took a long time so we were slowly watching this character that we loved get turned into a demon. It meant something… in The Seventh Day we literally watch a character we don’t give a damn about turn into a demon for a minute. It’s not scary, it’s not interesting, it’s comical at best.
If I were to be generous, I might say that the ending is at least half decent, there’s a third act reveal (because of course there is) that is meant to try and put a lot of things in context but really it just lets things get wacky enough to count as a climax. It’s an ending that’s theoretically interesting, but in practice it comes after about an hour and 15 minutes of failure so the ending would have to be spectacular to beat that build up and there is just nothing special whatsoever about that ending. It’s an idea, a better movie could make it work (even with the same performer) but The Seventh Day isn’t good enough to pull that off.
Oh, and just throw on top of all this my personal favourite annoyance of the pointless strobe lights about an hour into The Seventh Day that make it a risk to people’s physical health and you have a movie that goes right up to the top of my personal hate scale. Boredom is one thing, trying to give me a goddamn seizure is the worst thing.
The Seventh Day is so named because it’s a movie that’s on rest mode, it’s sleepwalking through the standard Exorcism movie cliches and throwing out loud noises. It has interesting ideas and then either discards them or just wastes them by surrounding them with so much boring bullshit that the thought of sitting around to get to the interesting stuff sounds like it might as well be torture. Just go rewatch The Exorcist, it’s called the scariest film in history for a reason and at least that film has interesting characters and visuals.