To start this review, I have to mention that this isn't a horror flick, as I went into it thinking. I'd describe this as a mix between suspense and drama, albeit very bloody. If you're a bit squeamish, and don't enjoy the sight of free flowing/squirting blood - you might wanna pass on this one. Also, it does take issue with the Catholic Church in some places, and those that didn't like Dogma for the Catholic stuff prob. won't prefer Stigmata either. Despite that, its a movie I found quite interesting.
For starters, the collectible 8-page booklet is filled with quite a few facts and the background on stigmata. For the uninformed, stigmata are "inexplicable bleeding from fresh wounds that appear without warning..." Stigmata are an honor, a blessing put upon only those most deserving and most devout of all Catholics. The first case recorded is that of St Francis of Assisi of the 13th century (where the director got the name Frankie for Arquette's character), and there have been over 300 documented cases of it - most women (90% according to said booklet). Stigmata continues to this day - including the US - drawing close scrutiny by the Vatican, who investigates all matters concerning miracles (of which stigmata are).
That brings us to the plot of the movie. Frankie Paige (Arquette) has come into the possession of a rosary belonging to a recently deceased priest thousands of miles away, and starts displaying stigmata - only she's a non-believer (and lives quite the deviant lifestyle). While riding home on the subway, she suffers an attack - huge gashes are cut into her back by an unseen attacker. A priest on the bus thinks that it might be the stigmata, and contacts the Vatican. Byrne plays the Vatican investigator, sent out by the cardinal (Pryce, from Tomorrow Never Dies) to investigate the incident and unravel the truth....