The Seventh Sign

Demi Moore is today’s Jesus
Released:
1988

Director: Carl Schultz

Starring: Demi Moore, Jurgen Prochnow, Michael Biehn, Peter Freidman

The Setup:

Woman’s worried that her baby might bring on the Tupacalypse.

Discussion:

I saw this at the theater back in the day [1988] and, in my youth, didn’t think it was that bad. Ho, ho, what did I know. Having recently watched Striptease and been taken with 7-9 minutes of Demi Moore obsession, I threw this one to the top of the list for immediate viewing. I think my Demi Moore obsession is now over. Or it will be after I watch Disclosure.

We begin on Christmas day in Haiti. Everyone out doing their Haitian thing when Jurgen Prochnow cuts through the crowd, everyone staring at him. You know, dark-skinned people are so spiritually sensitive, don’t you think? Probably because they’re so poor. We should leave them poor so they retain their spirituality. Anyway, Jurgen has a special letter with an Oreo cookie stuck to it. He breaks the cookie and all of a sudden all these dead, boiled fish wash up. Then we join the unctuous guy from Twin Peaks season two, a meteorologist, who has been dragged protesting to the desert, where he finds an Arab city frozen amid all the heat. This priest dude shows up and says that the frozen city was built on the remains of… Yspilanti! No, actually Sodom. How hot would it be to have a movie where they find that Los Angeles was built on the remains of Sodom, and some divine conspiracy hinging on Jessica Alba has been set in motion. Regardless, dead fish, frozen deserts: today's most respected Talmudic scholars refer to this stuff as “freaky shit.”

Cut to Demi Moore! She’s having an ultrasound on her baby, due in about two months. Here’s the backstory on Demi: she's Abby, she restores “fine arts” for a living, she’s not religious, and her baby is due on February 29th, a leap year [freaky!]. She tried to have a baby before but miscarried and almost lost her life. She is in denial about the chance that she might lose this baby, too. Her husband, Michael Biehn, is a lawyer who is trying to appeal the death sentence of the “word of God” killer, who killed his parents—who were brother and sister, btw—and now faces the death penalty, despite being retarded. Whew, that’s a lot of exposition! It’s a little funny, because the first thing we find out about all this is that her husband was denied his appeal, and we think “What, is her husband a felon?”

So Abby has a dream where she’s walking through this religious setting, then sees Jurgen getting punched out by this guy with this ring and Roman garb, who shouts at Demi “Would you die for him?” Demi’s hair is blown by unseen winds during this scene.

So Jurgen comes by to rent the apartment above Demi’s garage. It is soon arranged, and literally less than an hour after he has moved in, Demi is upstairs snooping through his things. He has also set the place up rather elaborately in just those few minutes. Satan's minions can bring a room from drab to fab in SECONDS! Demi returns to dinner, where Jurgen is. He and she apparently passed each other unnoticed in the twenty feet between the house and the garage. Those California nights sure are dark! At dinner, a sparrow flies into the house, and Jurgen tells them about the Guf, which is the spirit of an infant that only the sparrows can see. And Demi thinks this is just the sweetest thing. It’s a bit like Tawny Kitaen in Witchboard, who invites a spirit she just met through a Ouija board [the myspace of an earlier day?] to be her baby. Meanwhile, priest dude is on a train intoning such lines as “The prophecies! They have begun!” then staring teary-eyed out the window.

So one day Demi is out and sees Jurgen hangin’ in the pouring rain. It sure is raining a lot in Venice, CA, but I guess that could be a minor prophecy by-product. Demi really, REALLY wants to give Jurgen a ride, so she follows him quite a ways in the pouring rain into this temple thing—the one from her dream! Jurgen’s upstairs, and he puts the letter with the cookie to his mouth, which causes Demi to collapse on the floor in pain. These voodoo cookies later evolved into Portland’s voodoo donuts. Fortunately for mankind, the recipes for a variety of spiritually-infused baked goods remain hidden in scrolls at the bottom of the Dead Sea.

So Demi is rushed to the hospital where they stick a needle in her pregnant belly and withdraw a bunch of amniotic fluid. I don't really want to see that. Hubby Russell comes by and tries to get Demi to face the fact that she might lose the baby, but she insists "it's different this time. The pain is from outside." You're right, sweetie, the pain is from the script. Nevertheless, from here on out Demi starts doing loony things that make everyone think she's losing her mind, so that's real fun. Then—cut to Nicaragua! Some river has turned to blood, and you'll see how they avoid having to somehow make the entire river red, thus saving on expenses. Then—back to California!

Demi, apparently completely recovered, goes snooping again while images of worldwide catastrophes play on the TV. She finds a letter in some ancient language that has 2-29 at the top, which she interprets to be the baby's birth date. She, uh, steals it, and accidentally breaks one of the cookies on one of the letters, causing a very minor earthquake. THAT was one of the signs? Pretty mild. By the way, these cookies on the letters are seals, so really the movie is worried about the seventh seal, but of course it can't name the movie that, because of the famous Bergman film… which is probably for the best, as the whole idea of these seals is summarily dropped after this scene.

So Demi goes to the home of this high Jewish Rabbi or some such [she found him in the yellow pages?] but touches him, which is forbidden, so he won't talk to her. Luckily their son [I think] is right across the hall and just HAPPENS to be able to read the very ancient language on the letter Demi stole. The fact that Demi is a horrid snoop and thief is never considered a blot on her character. She is also absolutely convinced that the "2-29" at the top of the letter MUST be a date, and cannot conceptualize that it could refer to anything else. She finds some stuff about "the Guf" being the final sign, and calls her husband at work, while he is really busy, to rant more inanities about how everything in the world is happening because of HER baby! Russell thinks she's starting to lose her mind, and so do we, because the thing is, she really has NO evidence for what she thinks. And basically she keeps insisting "It's all about ME, it's all about MY BABY," and, well, anyone who has been on the Upper West Side knows how narcissistic new mothers can be. Anyway, soon Jurgen is in the kitchen with Demi and she's threatening him with a knife, and he's just out in the open with the fact that yes, her baby is the whole deal. She stabs him, and he glows from the inside, and Demi passes out and is rushed to the hospital again [it was kind of boring the first time, guys], only this time she is physically restrained. Soon after Jurgen tells her he's sorry about the baby, and the movie is so poorly made you spend the next ten minutes trying to determine if Demi lost the baby. She didn't—or there'd be no more movie!

SPOILERS > > >
So Demi relaxes in the tub naked [pervy straight guys take note], and toys with a razor, making as though to slit her wrists. We can see that she tried this once before. Of course, her scars are across her wrists, not the more effective along her wrists—fucking amateur. She then has a total freak-out mental breakdown scene in the tub, and that's always somewhat delightful.

Meanwhile, in an almost completely unrelated scene, the young Jew with the big glasses who Demi forced into translating her letter without so much as offering to buy him coffee for his trouble, chats with John Heard as a Catholic priest. This scene is obviously here only because someone knew John Heard and could get him to drop by for a scene. I was kind of hoping, a la The Omen and suchlike, that the young Jewish boy would fall victim to a grisly supernatural death for helping Demi with her translations, but alas no.

Anyway, the deal is as follows: Demi's baby will be the seventh sign, as it will be born without a soul, i.e. dead. Please do not ask yourself how many other stillbirths must be statistically likely to also happen on that day, and please do not try to puzzle out why Demi's is so special. Anyway, so finally the freaky priest gets there, and this is the one element, not exactly clever but at least unforeseen element the movie has to offer. The priest, who you assume is rushing to save the baby from Jurgen, is actually there to make SURE it dies! He has been cursed to wander the Earth until the world ends, and he has some pretty painful corns, so he wants this bitch OVER WITH. Somewhere in here—who knows where Demi gets her logic from—Demi determines that what she must do is prevent one of the signs from happening, and that'll throw the whole process off. This is, at best, speculation, but whatever. Was this film the source of the almost exact same plot logic, which also centered around the birth of a baby, in Final Destination 2?

So next on the sign list is the death of an innocent. Now, where is Demi going to find one of those? Well, wouldn't you know, the case her husband is working on IS the sign! The retarded kid who is going to be executed! The "Word of God" killer! WHAT were the chances? Demi and Russell sure are a theological power couple. They've got their finger on the apocalyptic pulse! On the apocu-pulse!

So Demi makes another call to her husband, telling him to stop the execution—which is all he's been trying to do for the past few months, I believe—and by that time he's like "Jesus Christ, my fucking batshit-crazy wife. Hey Murray, can you wait two minutes and then call me away from the phone, saying the donuts are here or something?" So Demi and Jewboy race to the prison, which has a big mob of reporters being held at bay by security—and Demi and friend are suddenly inside. HOW did that happen? Did they teleport? Does she have bionic legs? Did they dig? Regardless, suddenly they're inside the restricted areas of the prison.

So Demi runs in and yells "Stop!" and the evil priest, rather than wait three seconds for security to take the obviously insane woman out of the room, pulls out a gun and tries to kill the boy. Demi, who has magically transported herself downstairs, throws herself in front of the bullet! There's a moment of "She did it!," but no, because the bullet went through her and killed the differently-abled killer. Then the sky gets dark and there's another earthquake—which no one deems worthy of comment—and Demi goes into labor!

I think she is taken to the hospital, but maybe she just gives birth at the prison. Why knows? Not me. So she's giving birth in the middle of this huge earthquake and blackout, and the baby is… dead! Sweet, let's get this world over with! But no, Demi hears the voice again, "Would you die for him?" screams "YES!" and reached out to touch the baby. It is the TOUCH OF LIFE, ladies and gentlemen. The baby lives, and Demi dies, which was totally unnecessary, but done for effect. Now you see why I say that Demi Moore is the modern Jesus. She gave her life to save humankind! That's why, from now on, whenever faced with any kind of moral quandary, I will simply ask myself: "WWDD?"

You thought the horror was over, but no, we're about to get two of the most painful lines of the entire movie, delivered like a punch in the gut, right after we thought the main attack was over. Jurgen pops by and manages to keep a solemn face long enough to get out "The hall of souls is full again. [Demi was] the one person with hope enough for the whole world." Don't make me go into it, but basically the idea was that heaven ran out of souls, that's why the world was ending. WHERE they got the new soul drop-shipment from all because Demi died is anyone's guess. I suppose her existence was clogging up soul distribution channels? But it's not over. Even worse than the first line, Jurgen then stops by Jewboy and instructs him to write the history of this momentous event, to "tell it," and blah blah blah. I don't know what happened after that because I knocked myself unconscious as a preventative measure.
< < < SPOILERS END

It was quite horrendous, and only semi-amusing. On the plus side, you have Demi at her mousiest [this was in the earlier part of her career, the pre-Ghost era] with a ill-advised haircut, you have religious apocalypse stuff, always fun—or, rather, often fun—and you have a heroine who everyone thinks is crazy and, even better, genuinely seems like it! And dead fish and rivers running red—hell, I went to see The Reaping just for that [and that is essentially all I got, and not even that good]. On the minus side, it just makes next to no sense, we can't really feel for Demi's character because of her shocking lapses in logic, the fact that she really does seem nuts, the fact that she's a snoop and a thief, and our inability to take this shit in any way seriously. Not to mention that it is rather anticlimactic. Oh, and that we're seen a few dozen better movies almost exactly like it. I was hoping for a lot more apocalyptic cheese and Demi scenery-gnashing but all I got was this shitty lame late-80s turd pile. Mortal Thoughts be damned, my Demi-fest [to be ingeniously entitled Demi-Monde] may have to come screeching to a premature halt. Well, maybe after Disclosure.

Should you watch it?

I would decline, but if forced to, you'll live.

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