Heard The Bells

With the volley of exorcism movies coming out of the shadows to terrify people, one would never have figured exorcism and Christmas had anything to do each other. Other than the fact that Christmas stripped of its commercialism is full of singing angels and that demons have the singular responsibility to ruin happiness, no one had made a distinct connection…until now.

A Christmas box office success, ‘Heard The Bells’ is an “exorci-flick” was directed by the likely candidate, M. Night Shyalaman. A mysterious man is seen walking through a one-stoplight town around Christmas, not minding the wind throwing snow at his face. He comes to a house and stares into the window until the camera pans off to one side and we see a woman flipping around in her sheets, clawing at her face. A man comes rushing into the bedroom when the woman starts to scream, picking her up and carrying her into another room for cocoa. The figure at the window walks off and intros starts to roll, leaving us in suspense and confused, until we remember this is a Shyamalan film and we’re supposed to be confused.

The parade of opposites reminds us why we’re scared of things unnatural: Nicolas Cage is a college dropout, working at a gas station to pay for his training to become a priest, and caring for his mentally disturbed sister, Bryce Dallas Howard (who is making a career playing disturbed people). For once, Cage isn’t paired with a sensual counterpart and pulls off this more paternal role with believability, seen doing things like tucking his needy sister in and carrying her to a wheelchair, where she has been confined after a mysterious car accident. He takes her to church where, lo and behold, the new priest is the man at their window, played aptly by Matthew Fox. A scream from Howard ends the service and Cage takes his sobbing sister home.

The basic storyline is simple; Howard appears possessed. Fox is a radical priest who’s mysteriously anxious to help Howard and Cage’s predicament, claiming that he was sent. “Like an angel?” Howard asks frankly after Fox earns their trust enough for chats in the living room. Fox considers, then shrugs noncommittally and we are left guessing until the end. A more gut-punching scene happens in the church, where Cage, at the end of his rope with his insane sister and aimless in life, demands to know why studying to become a priest would assuage wounds he himself carries. Fox rips off his priest collar and declares that it’s not religion that makes a man, but the extent to which he believes.

The ending of this noirish film is abrupt, people standing in Christmas Eve snow watching Howard getting up and walking, attributing Fox for the healing. The film is open for translation, but it has an underlying message that materialistic films have failed to portray: there cannot be peace on earth until there is peace in the hearts of men.

By Lindsey Narmour

To vote for Heard The Bells click the facebook like button at the top of the page

Back to Write Christmas

About The Author