Darik's Review of Deadly Blessing
Anyone who has seen this film to the end will probably tell you this: Deadly Blessing is one weird little movie. But that doesn't stop it from being suitably creepy and entertaining.
Deadly Blessing is one of Wes Craven's earlier efforts, made after Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, but before Swamp Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact, a lot of it seems like a prototype for what would ultimately become Nightmare-- there is a vividly surreal dream sequence featuring an ominous shadow-man, a scene in which one girl describes a similar nightmare to her friend the following morning, and a sequence in which a snake pops up between a woman's legs in a bath tub, which is replicated almost shot-for-shot with Freddy's glove in Elm Street. But unlike that subsequent film, this is (for the most part) a much more down-to-Earth sort of horror-thriller, with a mysterious figure running around stabbing people to death in a way that almost feels reminiscent of the first Friday the 13th. And it's also possibly one of Craven's more personal works, as it revolves around an extremely religious sect of farmers called the Hittites (basically they're like the Amish, but more strict) who shun the outside world and whose God-fearing ways color the story throughout. Craven himself was raised in an extremely orthodox religious environment, and so one gets the impression that this film was a way of working through his conflicted feelings about religion and "straying from the path". The film itself is engaging, if slow-paced, and features a surprising range of familiar faces-- most notably, this was the first screen appearance of Sharon Stone, but it also features Jeff East (who played a young Clark Kent in Superman: The Movie) and, bizarrely enough, Ernest Borgnine, who delivers a surprisingly solid performance as the glowering Hittite patriarch. But more than anything else, what you'll remember about this film is the complete head-spinning "WTF?!?" ending, which makes a complete tonal 180 in the last three minutes and forces you to reevaluate everything you've just seen. Whether the movie earns this sudden about-face is debatable, but whether you like the ending or not, the fact remains that Deadly Blessing successfully holds your interest long enough to get you to it; it's a solid suspense thriller with more than its fair share of chills.
(more to come)