Completed in 2002 and holding down a shelf in the Weinsteins' closet for the past five years is Brian Gilbert's The Gathering, an occult thriller so dull, dreary and dangerously dry it boggles the mind. Who exactly is the target audience for a horror movie with no horror, a thriller with no thrills, and a movie with no clear focus on what it wants to say?
Things start out well enough: An ill-fated young couple plummet into a mountainside crevasse, and the rescue workers come across some stunningly unexpected relics. A whole bunch of stuff that has to do with, get this, the spectators at Jesus Christ's crucifixion. Yep, that's how low the horror bar has been leveled: In order to come up with a "fresh take" on the religio-horror sub-genre, we're now dealing with ... people who watched Jesus die. Weird.
Oh, but after the kids fall into the ancient crack and BEFORE all the mystical stuff starts limping around, we get to see Christina Ricci get plowed over by a car -- only to awaken in the hospital with no injuries! Is this buxom babe somehow connected to the newfound temple of "the gathering," or are we just getting set up for a ninth-generation retread of The Omen??
My vote is for option B, and were it not for the alluring presence of curvaceous Christina Ricci, my guess is that The Gathering would still be collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. The aimless plot-droppings occasionally meet up and combine for a half-decent sequence, but for the most part you'll spend the flick desperately hoping for some type of energy, style ... hell, even a pulse would have made me happy.
Fantastic Four guy Ioan Gruffudd plays the sort of charming yet monumentally evil character you see in all these occult thrillers, but you know what his character is up to from his first scene, and The Gathering is nothing if not intent on following the ultra-standard formula for this type of story. Including the painfully telegraphed finale, there's nothing here the horror fans haven't seen before -- except that The Gathering is sorely lacking in anything resembling thrills, chills, or actual "horror."
Hell, even Ms. Ricci looks overwhelmingly bored by the gig, and she's an actress who works her ass off in just about everything.
Audio/Video: The widescreen anamorphic transfer looks perfectly fine -- as if a movie that's been locked in a drawer for five years should look less than impressive. DD 5.1 is the audio presentation, with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. On a technical level, it's a fine DVD; the movie, on the other hand...
As a longtime fan of both horror flicks and Christina Ricci, I was willing to overlook The Gathering's five-year delay and actively look for some buried treasure in this flick. Alas, I found none.