In “The Order,” Heath Ledger stars as a young priest named Alex who is convinced that the death of a fellow member of his order was not the suicide it appears to be, but murder. A past love named Mara (Shannyn Sossamon) shows up freshly escaped from a mental hospital and begins to make Alex rethink his vows. The two team up with another priest (Mark Addy) to investigate the death, which points to a mysterious figure known as the Sin Eater, a man who absolves people of their sins by eating a piece of bread off of their bodies.
Sound silly? That’s because it is. It is no surprise that this film was not screened in advance for critics (an early indication of a weak film).
Considering the director, Brian Helgeland, and cast, you might think that you were walking into “A Knight’s Tale 2.” If these people ever decide to reunite again, they desperately need to look for a better movie in which to do it. They will undoubtedly try to forget that they ever made this movie, while hoping that moviegoers forget as well.
“The Order” has been marketed as a horror/thriller, but the thrills are nowhere to be found. You keep waiting for the movie to get into gear, but it never does. Instead, the film moves along at a snail-like pace, giving you plenty of opportunities to look at your watch.
That is if you can see your watch in the dark. The filmmakers of “The Order” must have figured that by enveloping the film in darkness frame for frame, audiences would somehow be tricked into thinking the film was scary or spooky. It is neither.
During one scene, Mara remarks after entering a dark room, “It just needs some light.” “The Order” needs more than just light, but hey, it would have helped. I understand that the darkness was intended to set the mood for the film, but after a while it becomes dreary and makes the audience even more depressed than when they realized that they paid money to see a bad movie.
While the film slowly lost my interest, it did manage to keep my curiosity. I was curious as to where this was all going and what hopeful surprises the film had in store for me. Unfortunately, though, there was nothing all that redeeming ahead, just more of the same dull gloominess.
“The Order” joins “End of Days,” “Stigmata,” and “Lost Souls” as further evidence that Hollywood needs to give up on trying to make a worthwhile, religious-themed thriller. They just do not work and always end up lifeless and boring.