Year 7, Day 288 - 10/15/15 - Movie #2,174
BEFORE: October's nearly half over, and by now it seems like every channel has switched over to round-the-clock horror programming. So there are a wealth of choices for me out there as I sift through the daily movie listings. Everything from "The Conjuring" and "The Purge" to "The House on Haunted Hill" and "What Lies Beneath" - but I'm going to stay the course and take care of what's already on my list, because I've got a chance at clearing out this whole category, and I'll worry about next October later on.
Blair Brown from "Altered States" was also in "The Astronaut's Wife", which I watched earlier this year, with Joe Morton. And I'm back to doctors getting messages from beyond the grave, which was also the theme (sort of) in "Flatliners".
THE PLOT: A grieving doctor is being contacted by his late wife through his patients' near-death experiences.
AFTER: While not overtly religious, this film is about a non-believer coming to terms with the possibility of life after death, once he starts receiving messages that could only be coming from his dead wife. She collected things with dragonflies on them, so every time he sees that insect, or an object with that thing on it appears to have moved across the room, he takes that as a sign. And then there's the mysterious closet that packs itself. But rather than a blatant creepy ghost story, there are symbols and messages that he needs to decode.
He even tells a woman who attempted suicide that she shouldn't try it again, because there's no world after this one, so she'd be wasting her time trying to get there. Which I think is an interesting point - if so many people think heaven is so fantastic, why aren't they all trying to get there as soon as they can? I suspect that the Christian religion (and other faiths as well) wanted to use heaven as a motivator to influence behavior, but also wanted its followers to stick around and keep supporting the church. And there's that sticking point about suicide being a sin, so if you try to cheat the system and get to heaven early, then you won't deserve to get in.
But there are a lot of contrivances here - the main character's job as a doctor puts him in touch with a lot of dead bodies, plus kids in a cancer ward who have had near-death experiences, and these are the conduits for the messages from his late wife. If his character had been a lawyer or a plumber, no doubt she would have had a much more difficult time contacting him. And it just so happens that there's a nun who also visited the sick kids, who seems to know a lot more about human unconsciousness than even medical people do, another contrivance. Don't even get me started on his plans for the whitewater rafting trip, or the medical situation at the beginning that foreshadows the ending.
An ending which you may see coming from miles away - all of the details are important, and when you put them together that's really the only way the film could have ended. If you expected more, or even less, than you didn't put the pieces together properly.
NITPICK POINT: The vast majority of airlines would never allow a woman who's seven months pregnant to get on a plane in the first place. I appreciate that she wanted to bring medical aid to the natives of South America, but this plan was ill-advised. Another huge contrivance, but also way out of line with practical medical advice.
Also starring Kevin Costner (last seen in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Pursuit"), Susanna Thompson (last seen in "Random Hearts"), Kathy Bates (last seen in "Failure to Launch"), Ron Rifkin (last seen in "Keeping the Faith"), Linda Hunt (last heard in "Pocahontas"), Jay Thomas (last seen in "Legal Eagles"), Matt Craven (last seen in "White House Down"), Justina Machado (last seen in "The Call"), Jacob Vargas (last seen in "Jarhead").
RATING: 4 out of 10 wiggly crosses