It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
“The Seventh Sign” begins with portents of the apocalypse. The rivers run with blood, the sea boils, the desert freezes, the birds fall from the sky, the earth shakes, and things are not so hot out on the beach in California, either. A strange man with burning eyes has just rented the little apartment over the garage in the backyard of Demi Moore’s house, and she finds ancient Hebrew manuscripts in his desk - in a secret code.
This is the kind of movie where I tend to settle back and relax. I actually enjoy thrillers about biblical prophecies and the second coming and the Anti-Christ. After the sheer anarchy unleashed upon Hollywood by the slice-and-dice movies, it’s actually comforting to know that these characters play by the rules. They believe in good and evil, and they act as if individual human beings can have an influence on the outcome of events. Compared to the “Friday the 13th” world view, “The Seventh Sign” is positively sanguine.
Like “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Exorcist” and “The Omen” movies, this one places its supernatural events within a framework that at first seems everyday and sane. There is an art to this process. You show characters going about the mundane events of their routine daily lives, but on the soundtrack you play a far-off Gregorian chant, so it’s clear that the forces of evil are marshalling their troops offscreen.
Moore has the central role, as a woman who has lost one child during pregnancy and is now fearful of losing another. The story begins in the last two months of her pregnancy, with her husband (Michael Biehn) lending moral support while her doctor shows her the fetus on a television screen. There’s a lot of talk, of course, about the quantity of her amniotic fluid. Why is it that movies about the forces of darkness always place such an emphasis on the details of the female reproductive process? Ever since Charles Grodin played the gynecologist in “Rosemary’s Baby,” you can’t see one of these movies without learning something about pregnancy.