5th January 2001 (UK), 24th July 2020 (Amazon Prime)
Cody, a little girl abandoned by her mother and raised by her aunt, a nurse, is kidnapped. The girl's guardian, aided by an F.B.I. agent, learn that Cody has supernatural abilities, and the abductees are a Satanic cult willing to do anything to gain them.
Kim Basinger, Jimmy Smits, Rufus Sewell
Christmas is well known as a time for giving. But in Chuck Russell’s silly supernatural thriller Bless The Child, now available on Amazon Prime Video presented by Signature Entertainment, Maggie O’Connor (Kim Basinger) gets more than a quirky jumper when her drug addict of a sister Jenna shows up with her newborn child Cody. Jenna subsequently dumps the baby on Maggie, fleeing her apartment at the first opportunity.
Years go by and Maggie has adopted Cody as her own. But Cody, initially thought to be autistic, grows to be a very gifted child, even displaying telekinetic abilities. At the same time, a spate of child abductions are happening around the city with all the victims not only being branded with a mysterious symbol but all having the same birthday in common too – which also happens to be Cody’s birthday.
When Jenna re-appears with her new husband, a shady self-help guru named Eric Stark (Rufus Sewell), wanting to be back in Cody’s life, Maggie is naturally suspicious of the pairs intentions. Who is this charismatic Eric and what does he really want with Cody?
Originally released in 2000, Bless The Child is finding a new audience two decades later through Amazon Prime. Almost universally panned by critics, I feel it may have been unfairly judged. It sure isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it has its strengths that make it worthwhile.
First and foremost would be Rufus Sewell’s performance as Eric. Equally charming and menacing, Sewell encapsulates the best of the worst Cult leaders and it’s easy to see why he’d gain followers. The young (well, was young. Now she’s probably 28 or so. Which is still young; a view which has absolutely nothing to do with me being around that age too) Holliston Coleman gives a great turn as Cody, the titular Blessed Child. A glorified cameo by Christina Ricci is a welcome, albeit brief face in a role that has more than just its screen time cut off.
Basinger had the unenviable honour of being nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards (more commonly known as The Razzies, a ceremony which aims to honour the worst films of the year) in 2000: one for I Dreamed of Africa and the other for Bless The Child. Again, I feel that’s a little harsh. Sure, it’s not Basinger’s best shift she’s ever done. Come to think of it, there’s certainly nothing memorably bad in Bless Th… Ah. Wait. Yes. Yes there is. The rats. The CGI Rats.
My main issue with Bless The Child, however, is how unfocused it feels. Its narrative is bloated with cults, religion, real-life crime as well as supernatural goings on. It takes on far too much and as a result each individual aspect suffers. Even with the charismatic force of Sewell, the cult doesn’t feel as powerful as it could due to everything else going on at the same time.
So while Bless The Child might not possess any exceptional qualities, it’s a solid fixture in the spooky gifted youngster subgenre.
Signature Entertainment presents Bless the Child now available on Amazon Prime.
Rufus Sewell as a a charismatic cult leader
Woeful CGI. Especially those damn rats.