Guy Pearce’s ability to show up and carry small, strange projects continues with The Seventh Day, a tepid exorcism thriller in which Pearce plays Father Peter, a street-smart exorcist who doesn’t play by the rules of the church and often finds himself facing off with demons that would “make other priests piss in their vestments.” Nobody can fault Pearce for taking gigs for the work, particularly when he’s consistently the most interesting piece of the ensemble; one particular moment as the chips fall at the end of this story is a stellar bit from him.
Pearce isn’t the only character actor hopping in for a solid day’s work. Keith David appears at the start as Father Louis, Peter’s former mentor, in a sequence that establishes adult Peter’s dour disposition. The two showed up at an exorcism and failed, costing Louis his life and leading Peter to understand the depths to which demons will go as they mess with humanity. It’s a play on The Exorcist, just like every other movie about exorcisms since The Exorcist. Unlike The Exorcist, it isn’t scary or particularly interesting. God is nowhere to be found here outside of his invocation on now-trite exorcism lines. The power of Christ compelled me to turn this off.
I didn’t, though. To be clear, neither Pearce nor David is the lead of the film. That belongs to Father Daniel (Vadhir Derbez), top in his class at exorcism school and assigned to study under Father Peter to learn the way this all works. Daniel uncovers the truth of Peter’s dark past and the demon who haunts them both. The door to their journey is opened when a 10-year old murders his entire family and blames it on the temptations of a creature that appeared in his room and possessed his soul. It’s all very straightforward.
Despite The Seventh Day being a rather dull movie, writer / director Justin P. Lange does manage a few moments of good, creepy filmmaking. Dark hallways, creepy reveals, a few jump-scares. It is un-involving but not technically bad. The story is simply not snappy enough, the scares not shocking enough. The Seventh Day is a chore outside of Pearce’s performance, an utterly unremarkable bit of horror chicanery. The only risk watching this one before bed is waking up confused on your couch at 3 a.m. with your Roku’s menu floating by.