Maggie,having her marriage break up due to a miscarriage(which you hear about right away in the reunion scene with her sister,yes this flick is not subtle with the character build-up,folks!) is happy to raise her abandoned niece Cody on her own.
Most of the plot development and characterization in this movie has all the charm and nuance of a third rate Lifetime/Hallmark channel film,such as with the montage of passing time that shows the girl needs special care and that poor Maggie can't get a man to stay interested in her due to Cody's occasional acting out(good riddance,in my opinion). Maggie is also a religious skeptic,something that will crop up during the course of this film that will be challenged,of course.
Six years later,Maggie hears word of her sister from a junkie goth girl(Christina Ricci,who must have really needed the work or lost a bet to be in this thing) who warns her that Cody will soon be the target of a cult that Jenna is now a part of:
Turns out New Dawn is a front for a Satanic cult,looking for a child born on the very same day as Cody was who is destined to bring people to God via her special powers. Much like the Terminator, the cult members have no problem with wiping out the kids who don't measure up. There is this one scene where a little boy is lured into a van that makes you wish that Eliot Stabler from Law & Order:SVU would turn the corner and deliver a serious beat down on the creepy guy offering the puppy.
As it just so happens, an FBI agent with a background as a priest-in-training(Jimmy Smits,who also lost a bet,I'm sure) offers Maggie some help while he's investigating the cult murders of the little kids. Maggie attempts a self help approach but Eric's creepy band of followers(which include roaming goth kids and a knitting needle wielding nanny),plus his magic Satan powers prove to be more than a match for her:
Meanwhile,Eric spends his time trying to turn Cody to the dark side and his methods of persuasion leave me in serious doubt of his leadership skills.
Think about it;if you were going to tempt a magical kid into doing your bidding,where would you take her-a)a toy store, b)an ice cream parlor or c) either a rooftop to fall off of or an alleyway to watch a homeless man be burned alive? If you guessed c, then you are on the same demented brain wave as our fearless leader Eric.
Granted,the most she shows in otherworldly ability is spinning plates with her mind and healing a dead bird but still a shopping spree at F.A.O. Scwhartz would be a better inducement into the devil's army for a kid(not that I approve of or endorse that notion,just saying!).
Eventually,Maggie finds some religious allies who help her track down Cody(at a devil worshiping dentist office-guess Satan likes it when you brush and floss) and goes on the lam with her. During this chase,an angelic being offers some help but nothing in the way of really doing any damage to the evil pursuers. A couple of times,these angel types turn up and you'd think that their heavenly orders would be more than "revive that dead plant in his office to renew his faith!' and "Hold the subway door open with your trusty umbrella!":
More crazy chases and cheddar cheese level f/x(hoards of "Mickey Mouse" rats pop up for no real reason) lead to a tortured showdown with the forces of evil and if you find scenes of child endangerment upsetting, avoid this one at all costs.
Hell,even if that doesn't bother you, the Omen lite story telling and wooden forced performances should be enough to scare you off or at least earn you some brownie points in Purgatory for sitting through this flimsy excuse of a fear film.
Honestly,folks,the main reason I saw Bless the Child when it first came out was due to the poster. That fiery cross with the little girl image is pretty cool but sadly, that is the only element this movie got right. I wasn't even inspired to read the Cathy Cash Spellman novel this movie is based upon,which is just as well-torment can only go on for so long.
Next week is our last insidious installment of Bad Movie Month,where we take a gander at the belabored remake of Bedazzled. This comedy claims to give a "hundred and ten percent" but only the latter is correct when it comes to laughs: