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Film / Bless the Child

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A 2000 horror/thriller film adapted from the novel by Cathy Cash Spellman, directed by Chuck Russell and starring Kim Basinger, about a mother and her adopted child — who just happens to be the messiah.

Maggie O'Connor (Basinger) is a nurse who one night gets a brief visit from her drug-addicted sister Jenna (Angela Bettis), who drops off her newborn daughter Cody. Fast forward a number of years, and Cody (Holliston Coleman) is in a Catholic school for disabled children. She is believed to have a form of autism, but it is indicated that she has started to develop supernatural powers - making plates levitate, and more importantly resurrecting a dead bird. Things are going well.

Then, one day, Jenna comes back to claim her child. Or rather, Jenna's new husband Eric (Rufus Sewell) has come to claim his new wife's child...

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Downplayed example. Eric Vanner becomes Eric Stark in the movie.
  • Affably Evil: The bad guy is really nice and polite about his murderous plans - even when he has a gun against his head.
  • Black-and-White Morality: As black and white as it gets, with the child being the messiah and the antagonists literally being agents of the Devil.
  • Composite Character: John Travis is Detective Devin with Father Peter's backstory.
  • Church of Happyology: The New Dawn. Pretends to be a self-help organization, but is really a religion? Check. At the same time, it pretends to be an honest religion but is really an evil scam? Check. Is led by a celebrity? Check. Leader-worship? Check. The cult secretly hates Christianity? Check. The cult's propaganda and centers look exactly like Scientology's propaganda and centers? Check. Harasses defectors? Check. Has an army of lawyers? Check. People are actually possessed by countless thetans/demons? Check. The cult uses e-meters to count how many thetans are possessing your body? Actually not check, the line has to be drawn somewhere.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Beware of old nuns, they can pray. And in this setting, prayer is a very powerful weapon.
  • Clean Cut: Maggie finds Cheri slumped against a wall in the subway, with blood on her face but apparently just unconscious. When Maggie tries to shake Cheri awake, though, her head rolls right off without there ever being any previous indication it had been cut through.
  • Cult: The New Dawn. See Church of Happyology above.
  • Death of a Child: The girl lives, but this does not apply to any of the other kids the cult targets.
  • Disability Superpower: Cody's telekinesis and ability to resurrect the dead are tied directly to her autism.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jenna freely admits she has no idea who Cody's father is, since she slept around while she was a drug addict.
  • Easter Episode: The movie's plot takes place leading up to Easter.
  • Eye Scream: A guy gets a knitting needle in the eye.
  • Former Child Star: Eric is a former sitcom child star turned self-help guru.
  • Healing Hands: Cody revives the dead pigeon by cradling it between her hands and doing her autism's repetitive motions.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: The original book's universe is an intercultural, almost pagan one in terms of religion, but this film is strictly Christian and establishes Cody as literally the Second Coming of Christ.
  • Hospital Hottie: Maggie, who as previously mentioned, works as a nurse. She is played by Kim Basinger after-all.
  • In Name Only: The original novel involves Egyptian mythology, Paganism, Kabalah, Christian mysticism, reincarnation and government conspiracies. The movie barely resembles the book.
  • The Masquerade: Angels and demons are everywhere, fighting their war without anyone noticing.
  • Mind over Manners: Cody is extremely polite, using her good manners not only to keep her other powers in check but also as a superpower in itself. She actually use it to defeat the Antichrist.
  • Mind over Matter: Cody demonstrates this power in some tableware.
  • Off with Her Head!: Bye-bye, Christina Ricci.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Agent Travis and Maggie O'Connor pitted against Eric Stark.
  • Religion of Evil: The local Church of Happyology is actually a front for an ancient cult of "Luciferian" devil-worshippers.

Tropes exclusive to the novel:

  • Abusive Parents: Jenna and her husband Eric allow Ghania to subject Cody to horrific tortures.
  • All Myths Are True: The Isis messenger myth can be found in ancient Egyptian myth, Paganism, Kabalah, and Christian mysticism.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just when it seems that Cody's soul will be banished from her body, the Mossad squad bursts in during the dark ritual and comes to Maggie, Peter and Cody's rescue.
  • Barrier Maiden: Cody. She's the only one who can summon the Isis Amulet and the Sekhmet Stone.
  • Betty and Veronica: Maggie’s torn between Father Peter and Detective Devin. After the drama’s settled down, she chooses Devin.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world and Cody are safe, Eric Vanner is dead, but so is Jenna. Maa Kheru is still out there, but Cody will be ready one day.
  • Career Versus Man: Peter must chose between his growing love for Maggie and his priestly vows. In her past life, Maggie, known as Min during that lifetime, had the same dilemma between her job as a priestess of Isis and her love for Karaden.
  • The Chosen One: Cody is the Isis messenger while Maggie is her protector.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Isis Amulet and Sekhmet Stone. The Amulet can bring about absolute good, while the stone can bring about absolute evil.
  • Cute Witch: Ellie.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even some cult members are afraid of Ghania. Ghania herself tells Jenna she's a terrible mother, just before she's sacrificed.
  • Government Conspiracy: The cult has many high-ranking government members, and the Prime Minister of Israel is interested in the Isis amulet as well.
  • Human Sacrifice: It is mentioned that the cult practices this. This is Jenna's fate, before the climax.
  • Magical Nanny: A horrific subversion with Ghania as she uses her powers to force Cody to awaken her own.
  • MacGuffin Super-Person: Cody, the story is about rescuing her from her family.
  • The Mentor: Ellie towards Maggie.
  • Reincarnation Romance: A subplot between Maggie and Peter. They decide not to get together.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Maggie and Peter in both lifetimes.
  • The Power of Love: How Maggie defeats the demon and saves Cody.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: It’s mentioned that Jenna was once a good kid, before she became a drug addict.