Stars: Gabriel Bryne, Patricia Arquette

A priest is dead in Brazil and a young woman in Pittsburgh starts experiencing Stigmata (the five individual wounds that Christ suffered during the crucifixion). There is a connection but the priest, Father Andrew Kernan (Gabriel Bryne), who’s investigating both incidents, is hardly aware of it.

There is a very interesting element to this film that was introduced late on that, had it been developed better, would have elevated it into a terrific suspense. However, it’s reduced to a mostly horror-exorcist-like film instead with many grisly scenes of Patricia Arquette (Frankie) being turned into a bloody mess with mysterious forces nailing her to the cross and jabbing her with thorns. The element involves a high level Catholic church conspiracy within the Vatican in Rome.

Father Andrew is a scientist-priest whose job it is to investigate miracles and then disprove them. His first assignment is in a small town in Brazil where a statue of the Virgin Mary is crying blood. The church quickly dismisses the case and then sends him on to Pittsburgh to investigate tales of a woman who seems to be experiencing stigmata. Upon an initial interview with Frankie, Father Andrew believes it’s not a case for the church because she doesn’t fit the profile. Yet, he is strangely drawn to her. He becomes more deeply involved and soon discovers that there are unexplained forces involved – even one tied to the dead priest in the Brazilian parish.

It’s not a bad film as it is. Both Arquette and Bryne do a good job. And there is some interesting cinematography here as well. The story passes muster for what it is but as I said, had they played up the conspiracy angle more, this would have been terrific.

Also features Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Daniel Houseman and Nia Long as Frankie’s friend Donna.

Lotta says Stigmata is decent religious-based horror fare.