Christina Ricci stars in this effective and rather understated modern British religious thriller. Universal Dutch R2 release.
the Glastonbury music festival, two young party goers fall through a
crack in the ground into the remains of an early church. An expert in
religious iconography is brought in who discovers that, uniquely, the
church's crucifixion scene seems to be reversed. Meanwhile a young
American girl, Cassie Grant (Christina Ricci) is walking through the
nearby English countryside when she is struck by a car - only slightly
hurt, she has suffered a bad memory loss and is taken in by the women
who ran her down, until she recovers. Cassie soon becomes haunted by
gruesome dreams, and becomes scared for the safety of the young boy she
lives with who seems to be the focus of the visions...
An original story and script written by the teleplay writer Anthony Horowitz, The Gathering
boasts a very well crafted script. Religious conspiracy and thriller
storys are a dime a dozen at present after the success of the Dan Brown
novels and their kin, however Horowitz
avoids the usual clichés of this genres, with the massive cover-ups by
sinister organisations and secrets that will destroy a thousand years
of faith, instead choosing to keep the themes small and almost
plausible with some real thinking points. The film itself retains this
feel, set almost entirely in a small English town with very low-key
characters - no-one here is planning to rule the world - and
accordingly there is not much action in this film, but the pacing
remains strong throughout and it does build up to a rather
unpredictable and exciting climax with a fitting if rather drawn out
Brian Gilbert does a solid job on this film, helped by some good
production values and beautiful Manx scenery. The church set is a real
stand-out and looks superb, while the subtle use of CGI is reminiscent
of Guillermo del Toro's horror works, and looks very effective. The
soundtrack is mostly choral based and perfectly suits the film's
The beautiful Christina Ricci takes the lead role, while Ioan Gruffudd (who has since gone on to be famous in the Fantastic Four
films) takes second billing. A lot of criticism has come to the leads,
and the rest of the cast, for their poor acting, however, in keeping
with the very understated, British nature of the film as a whole, it
does appear that the cast are carefully downplaying their performances
to keep with the tone. A few familiar faces crop up in the supporting cast
and the child actors do some very good work.
A very under-rated
film, thanks to its deliberately understated, small-scale nature and
poorly conceived promotion as a horror film, The Gathering comes
recommended to those who enjoy their thrillers on the realistic plot
based side, without world-changing events every ten minutes or MTV-edited action scenes.
Anyone famous in it?
Christina Ricci - the beautiful former child star who has done plenty of work in modern-cult cinema. Ioan Gruffudd - best known to British viewers as Hornblower he has since gone on to Hollywood success.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Brian Gilbert - a little known British director who also filmed the curious Wilde (1997) with Stephen Fry as the infamous writer.
Is it scary?
Occasionally - Some tense scenes, and a few jump shocks.
Quite a bit of blood and some gore in a few scenes.
Who is it for?
Certainly of interest to horror fans and especially
fans of religious horror or thrillers.
A choral based classic score mostly, fits well with the film's religious tones.
Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour. (Note:
the film has been released in the US on DVD in a 2.35:1 ratio, however
there is no hint of cropping on this 1.78:1 print, suggesting it is OAR)
The disc is very strong visually, good colours, practically no print damage. Very good transfer, almost looks like HD.
Original English language track. Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1, DTS 5.1.
Sounds good, surround channels used occasionally, but quite well.
Optional Dutch subtitles for the film and extras.
The disc includes:
B-roll - 4 minute collection of behind the scenes shots, with no additional audio, some interesting footage.
Main Cast (Ricci, Gruffudd, Jessica Mann & Harry Forrester)
Note: these interviews are presented as supplied to media outlets
Standard Amaray case.
Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
R1 release from Mirimax is in a 2.35:1 ratio (probably cropped) and lacks bonus features or DTS track. French and Scandinavian R2. Other regions lack DTS.
The print is
uncut. However, up to 10 minutes of scenes from the as-filmed version of the film seem to have been edited out
by Mirimax, including several scenes referenced by the actors in the
interviews. There could be a longer release in future.
A deliberately small scale thriller, The Gathering has a wonderfully low-key but well written storyline. Recommended.
A very good presentation of
this film. The extras seem tacked on, they are components that should
have been edited into a documentary. Lacks trailer and commentary, as
well as deleted scenes that are known to exist.