The Gathering Review

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[The Gathering]
Plot:While going to the town of Ashby Wake, a drifter named Cassie (Christina Ricci) is hit by a car driven by Marion Kirkman (Kerry Fox) and loses her memory. Marion invites Cassie to stay in her huge old house with her family, while recovering from the trauma. Cassie becomes very close to Michael, the young son of Marion`s husband Simon Kirkman. He is researching a recently discovered buried church from the First Century, with images of the crucifixion of Jesus and many anonymous persons watching it. Cassie starts having visions and premonitions with some locals, and decides to investigate the weird and nasty mechanic Frederick Michael Argyle. Her findings about who she is and the mystery relative to the locals and the town surprises her.

Cast: Christina Ricci, Ioan Gruffudd, Stephen Dillane, Kerry Fox, Simon Russell Beale, Robert Hardy, Harry Forrester, Jessica Mann, Peter McNamara.

My Thoughts:Very Interesting Film.

Review:So who says Christina Ricci has been MIA for awhile when it comes to movies? She had leading roles in "Cursed" and this film, "The Gathering". The real issue here is, why did Miramax shelve both of these movies for a few years? "Cursed" came out in 2005,yet it was obviously filmed a year or two in advance seeing as how Craig Kilborn stopped hosting "Late Night" sometime in later 2003. But were all aware of the problems "Cursed" had which almost prevented the film from even getting finished. But one could also think otherwise,as "The Gathering", a religious horror/thriller starring Ms. Ricci, hit theaters in limited capacity on the same day that "Hostel" came out. Problem is, "The Gathering" has been completed ever since 2002. This is 2006! Usually at some point most studios would've sent this film to dvd with a moderate internet ad campaign. But for some reason Miramax decided to hang onto it for four years,just to put it up against a film with a huge marketing campaign in "Hostel",and only open it in limited capacity. Did I mention this movie costed 18 million dollars to make? Atleast a decent ad campaign and a wide release could've ensured that the film would've turned in some sort of profit. I mean if Sony could put together a deceptive ad campaign for the "crap on a reel" that was "Boogeyman", surely Miramax could've worked out something with "The Gathering". Maybe they have a personal vendetta against Christina Ricci,who knows *shrugs*.

Now onto the film itself. In "The Gathering", Christina Ricci plays a woman named Cassie,who is on her way to a small town in England called Ashby Wake. She gets nailed by a female motorist named Marion who quickly calls her an ambulance,and as a way of saying "my bad", lets her stay with her in her huge house until she recovers from the accident. Pretty pointless considering at the hospital,the doctors tell Marion Cassie hasn't suffered any major injuries,despite suffering a blow from her car that would've pretty much annihilated your average every day human being. Cassies arrival coincides with the recent discovery of a buried roman catholic church,which Marions husband Stephen is called in to help investigate. The weird thing is,a statue of god is not facing the church,but has his back turned to it,and meanwhile,Cassie is having premonitions of dead people,including Marions children who she volunteers to look after. Are all of these events connected to Cassies arrival? And why can't she remembed anything of her past? Once the questions like this begin to fall into place in this film, I pretty much prepared myself for another one of those ho-hum religious horror movies. No offense,but most horror movies where the catholic church is trying to thwart evil end up putting me to sleep. Take "Stigmata" for example. However, "The Gathering" pulls the ole bait and switch and turns out to be a smart,clever,interesting,and overall enjoyable horror/thriller. Christina Ricci carries this entire movie and shows that shes only gotten better as an actress. She had a good script to work with and wasn't surrounded by boneheaded supporting cast members which took the focus off of her character. Her character of Cassie spends most of the film having premonitions of dead or dying people,which is one of the many weird things that constantly happen to her thoughout the film. Now usually when a character spends most of a movie having premonitions, it can quickly annoy the viewer and if the payoff is bad,it can really sink a movie. But the director Brian Gilbert does a good job of surprising the viewer with these scenes,having them happen out of nowhere. To add to the mystery,one of the children she looks after named Michael,is having terrifying dreams of his own. This tosses a new wrinkle into the film and keeps things upbeat. "The Gathering" is never predictable as it changes the script alot and blocks you from ever figuring out the film ahead of time,and all of the odd occurances that happen to Cassie such as constant run in's with an angry mongrel,towns people constantly staring at her,etc all come together nicely to help reveal the films main plot point when the time comes.Ioan Gruffudd (The Fantastic Four), and Peter Mcnamara show up in the film to supply further support to the mystery and thriller aspects of the movie. Mcnamara plays a weird and angry looking mechanic, and Gruffudd plays a possible love interest of Cassies. Both play pivotal roles in the films climax. For those of you who aren't fans of religious horror films where they overdo playing up the religion aspect,this films religious subplot is downplayed for most of the film,only to make an impact as an important piece of the puzzle late in the movie."The Gathering" isn't the kind of movie that hits you with nonstop action,blood,and or gore,but rather dazzles you with a mystery that you simply have to stay with the movie from start to finish to figure out. All the while the movie leaves the horror/thriller aspects in key places where they work best,and all the actors turn in good performances. It's a shame this movie only got a limited release,but with todays movie going audience wanting alot of bang for their buck with high ticket and concession stand prices, I can sort of see why Miramax would think this type of movie wouldn't do too well in theaters. This is the kind of movie suited for direct-to-dvd,where people are more inclined to take the time follow the story without expecting a film to just get to the good parts.

Pros:Christina Ricci turns in a great performance as the sometimes shaken yet tough Cassie. The supporting cast was pretty strong.The story was solid,and the end reveal made sure to tie in nicely with the events that transpired beforehand.

Cons:The actions of one of the movies characters at the end lacked motive which didn't hurt the film too much,but still these violent actions needed some explanation rather than none at all.

Overall:A very intriguing horror -thriller with a solid story and superb acting. You should definitely check it out when it arrives on dvd,or if you can find it playing near you.

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