Stars: Sharon Leal, Blair Underwood, Pam Grier, Nicoye Banks
Director: Neema Barnette
Showing: Neptune Cinema week of Friday, May 18. For more information call 292-7296.
Tickets: Buy tickets online
Runtime: 101 minutes
In bad melodrama, the instant a woman says, "You are such a good man, David," to her husband, you know that he isn't. In amateurish screenplays, somebody is bound to say, "All this time, I've been living with a stranger."
In films without an original thought in them, there's a serial killer, a ticking clock before the next victim dies and cops who break the rules, the law and the laws of common sense to crack the case.
Woman, Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, gives us a good woman (Sharon Leal) whose past catches up with her when she's tested by a tragedy in her life. A sort-of sequel to Woman, Thou Art Loosed, this time we've crossed from the straight, sermonizing melodrama of preacher-turned-movie-mogul T.D. Jakes into a melodramatic thriller.
This time, a child's been kidnapped. That shatters the world of her parents, realtor mom Kari (Leal) and college professor dad David (Blair Underwood). In the process of investigating the case, the oddly dressed and seriously unrehearsed Pam Grier uncovers details about the couple, things that complicate what should be a frantic search for another missing child, feared to be the latest victim of New Orleans' infamous "MK Killer." This child-napper's victims always turn up dead on the seventh day.
As this is the latest from Jakes' film factory, there's a questioning of God, a loss of faith and a sermon (starring T.D. Jakes) about digging up "the roots of bitterness".
On the 7th Day makes good use of a wide variety of New Orleans settings, Louisiana film incentive money put to use. It's a self-consciously cinematic outing, a melodrama littered with flashy technical touches. Veteran TV director Neema Barnette washes the colour out at dramatic moments, uses jump-cuts, fade-outs, slow-motion sequences and repeats images and lines in the cutting room to underline the obvious points this hilariously obvious script seeks to make.
It's a movie that teeters from mediocre to bad. Underwood, an actor often better than his material, has several good scenes - arguments with cops, both men talking at once, and talking loudly. Leal, a veteran of Tyler Perry's repertory company, has some good moments, too. Often coming after really bad ones.
The film and all of the characters lack urgency, despite the occasional rant to the cops to get "more invested" in this case. With every outrageous threat from a cop, every outrageous break with police procedure, every jaw-droppingly inappropriate interaction between husband and wife, On the 7th Day stumbles and plays like a step backward for Jakes & Co.
It has ambition and a decent cast, a director more than willing to dress things up, but a script that works neither as sermon nor entertainment.
Next attraction: The Avengers