It’s very rare that a film about something so rich in terror and interest can be so thoroughly boring that you wonder why it’s still going, but The Seventh Day manages it. After a promising prologue set in 1995 we’re introduced to Guy Pearce’s Father Peter, a grizzled priest who is paired up with the fresh-faced Father Daniel (Vadhir Derbez) to fight a demon that is possessing a young boy.
The film could have offered something in a hard-boiled buddy-cop movie with religious overtones if the film was interested in embracing the silliness of it’s cliched set up. Instead, the film is a dour boring take on the possession story.
Despite top billing, Pearce is M.I.A. for much of the film, offering Derbez the role of lead actor. Unfortunately, none of the roles are given any room to breathe or have life. Derbez does his best concerned face as he looks at people that might be possessed by some kind of demonic monster within, and Pearce occasionally offers a confused look of derision but neither have anything to do beyond one notes.
For a horror movie, there isn’t much in the way of scares which arguably it doesn’t need to. After all, many horror films get by with growing dread. Save for the occasional moment of moody establishment, and the odd jump, The Seventh Day is all about the aesthetics of dread rather than actual dread and fear. Moreover, despite the washed out colour palette of the film, there isn’t anything that offers a sense of hope being lost.
That said, a few subversions in the narrative and the occasional arresting image do keep interest going. There’s no denying that Guy Pearce can do grizzled incredibly well and even though he doesn’t come across as caring very much about the film he’s in, he’s still a perfectly compelling actor that he can make even the dullest of dialogue at least watchable. There are also moments that make you wince, the recurring image of someone’s flesh blistering before erupting into flames is the kind of surrealist horror you would hope from a film like this.
It’s not just that any film in the exorcism sub-genre of horror is going to be compared to the The Exorcist, but that any film that broaches the subject is going to need to provide something in the way of horror and fear to justify its existence. Sadly, The Seventh Day can’t muster much in the way of anything near that and instead opts to be a dull meditation on what goes into having faith. Considering the power of Christ compels us – it’s not that compelling.
Dazzler Media presents The Seventh Day on DVD & Digital from 26th April.