The Order (2003)

excl-theorder1-smWhat “The Order” suffers from is what many supernatural films suffer from: it has decent direction and interesting visuals but it’s end result is bland, boring, and devastatingly bleak. As well as being contrived and derivative. Crooked churches, secret organizations within the church, mysterious priests who have other connections, creepy looking children who are in the film just to be creepy, and characters that barely have any personality at all. Ledger plays Alex Bernier, a conflicted young priest whose mentor has just died and now the church is investigating his suicide. Alex is called upon by another priest (Peter Weller) who suspects that his mentor has been murdered now begins investigating his murder and hopes to bury his mentor in the church graveyard while discovering a mysterious cult that is tied to his mentor’s death.

All the while, he comes across a mysterious man who has contacted him and shows him an incredible sight revealing the cause of his mentor’s death and what led to it while spouting trite often times complicated and esoteric one-liners like “Look into the abyss, and the abyss will look back into you”. Ledger’s character goes through a long, arduous, and boring journey into the mind of this man and learns of his power that enables him to eat the sins of someone before they die, thus purifying them for heaven. Much of “The Order” and its narrative are scattered; when it’s not boring, it’s awfully confusing and then it mixes and meshes into one sloppy story that very little people will care about or even acknowledge. “The Order” is also miscast with Heath Ledger who is hard to buy as a priest.

Considering his character’s obligatory cynicism towards the church he looks very clean-shaven and a little too neat to be a priest all the while acting like a cardboard cutout with very little expressions, emotions, or believable delivery of dialogue. We’ll never see a hero in these supernatural films that are happy, we’ll never see a priest character who is right in the world. They always have to be dark, brooding, and cynical. After revealing his very long and boring life story explaining his motivation for eating sins and contradicting the church, how he learned to eat sins, and why he eats sins, and how he eats sins, we’re never given enough emotional material to care about the character.

He isn’t at all threatening or intimidating, yet we’re given a cult to fear, a cult with people who hang other people and wear black hoods and speak in Latin just to make them sound creepier. Then we’re given two pale kids who serve absolutely no purpose in the story other than to look creepy and turn into a group of bats, followed by ominous church music with a large choir constantly chanting in the soundtrack. There’s no reason for the children to be in the film, but they appear frequently in the story just to look spooky and possibly symbolize something, perhaps obligatory plot devices. Alex is also shown how the process starts with sin eating. I was quite interested in learning about the concept of Sin Eaters, my fascination for the occult was always unquenchable and I found it very interesting to see how it happened.

Who knew our sins manifested itself into jellyfish ghosts once sucked out of our bodies? There can be potential conflict and philosophical pining derived from the sin eating concept within the character that is never touched upon, the conflict as to whether certain people deserve to die with sins and burn in hell and if certain people deserve to be redeemed, the conflict as to whether the sin eater is evil or not considering he rigs the dead entry into heaven. None of it is touched upon and it’s all so shy away from into the nonsensical babbling we witness almost non-stop. Seriously, it rarely ever stops. There’s even a hilarious scene in which the sin eater confronts Mara and is chasing her around the house, and in an attempt to stop his running is throwing papers at him; it’s an odd and unintentionally funny sequence. Horribly recycled plot devices, dull non-threatening villain, and a cheesy ending accompanied by wooden acting by Ledger and Addy make “The Order” an ordeal to sit through.