The Gathering

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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The Gathering  (2002, dir: Brian Gilbert; writer: Anthony Horowitz; cast: Christina Ricci, Ioan Gruffudd, Stephen Dillane, Kerry Fox, Simon Russell Beale, Robert Hardey)






A young American, Cassie (Christina Ricci), is hit by a car in rural England. The distraught driver (Kerry Fox), calls for help and later takes Cassie into her home to help her recuperate. Cassie is in pretty good shape, though she has no memory of her identity. She also notices strange people occasionally staring at her in the streets. Why?

Meanwhile, Simon (Stephen Dillane), the man of the family that Cassie is staying with, is studying a recently excavated, early Christian church. But why was it buried in the first place? To hide some evil?

The Gathering is a supernatural horror tale about the lookiloos who witnessed Christ's crucifixion. Their ghosts are now they are condemned to walk the Earth forever, lookiloos to every human tragedy. They must show up, and watch and stare.

It's a creepy premise, unoriginal in its broad strokes, but original in the details. The Gathering evokes The Mothman Prophecies, a fine horror film about the mysterious "mothman" who appears in locales that are soon to experience tragedy. The Gathering also has shades of Ray Bradbury's "The Crowd."

But the specifics of The Gathering -- tying its creepy crowd to Christ's crucifixion -- are original. The photography is beautiful. And there are some good shocks.

I've seen lots of jarring car accidents in horror films (e.g., The Descent, Devil, some of the Final Destination films, and 1983's Australian Stage Fright), and The Gathering delivers on that score. Actually, it has two car accident scenes. Car accidents have become a horror film cliché, but they're well done here, so no complaints.


The ending is surprising, though hardcore horror fans might see it coming. I had guessed that it was one of several possible outcomes. But again, the ending's final revelation is well staged, so even if you saw it coming, it's still jarring to witness.

Altogether, The Gathering is a creepy film, with some nice shocks and unexpected twists. A good choice if you're in the mood for suspenseful, conspiratorial, theological horror.


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