It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
When the lights came up after "Mr. Frost," I was wrestling with a thorny theological question: If Satan chose to reveal himself to man, would he manifest himself as Jeff Goldblum? I ask the question because the Mr. Frost of the title is indeed Satan, and yet possesses all of Goldblum's usual mannerisms, those little personal tics that I found effective in movies like "The Fly" but less convincing, somehow, in the devil. Goldblum's slick charm, for example, and his way of throwing pauses into the middle of sentences, and what he does with his eyebrows.
One of Lucifer's intolerable penalties - in addition to being banished from heaven, of course - must have been the knowledge that he would be played by actors in the movies. God is rarely portrayed as a human being, but the devil provides more work than Joan of Arc. The most recent Satan on the screen was Robert De Niro ("Angel Heart"), where the dark eminence was portrayed as De Niro's impression of Martin Scorsese. Other actors who have played the devil include Emil Jannings, Walter Huston, Ray Milland, Rex Ingram, Burgess Meredith, Peter Cook and, of course, Vincent Price.
Of the lot, Jeff Goodblum's Satan is easily the least likable - which is praise, I guess. He is a mass murderer who lives in the country, on an estate where the tortured and mutilated bodies of his victims are buried all over the grounds. Arrested and taken into custody, he refuses to speak, and the police find it impossible to establish his real identity. Finally he is sent to a high-powered mental institution, run by the egotistical Reynhardt (Roland Giraud). But the only psychiatrist he will speak to is a woman, played by Kathy Baker.
Why does he choose her? To seduce her with his mind, perhaps. He tells her quite frankly that he is the devil, and the screenplay by Philip Setbon and Brad Lynch provides a nice little speech where he complains that the modern world has gone to - hell, I suppose. In the old days, he sighs, it was a simple matter of good and evil, and people sold their souls for youth and wealth. But today the shrinks have taken over, and there is an explanation for everything.