If you’ve watched any movie involving the antichrist, then you’ve already seen most of The Calling because it freely references all of them, from classics like The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby to deservedly obscure dreck like Bless The Child. (It also, inexplicably, riffs on Eyes Wide Shut. Who knows why?) The only original idea The Calling has going for it is the notion that the antichrist must go through events paralleling (albeit, sped up) the life of Christ by having corrupted, satanic versions of a baptism, a crucifixion, and a resurrection.
Maybe it’s that one spark of originality that kept me mysteriously glued to the movie till the end. It certainly wasn’t the script which not even the dependably weird Alice Krige could save. I mean, it was actually painful to watch a fairly solid actress like Laura Harris forced to play a character so irritatingly stupid. “Son, are you impaling your guinea pig? Oh, you kids do the darndest things!” Seriously, would someone please explain to aspiring screenwriters that naive and moronic are not the same thing.
And while you’re at it, tell them to pay attention in their religious ed classes too. Look, anytime you’ve got a movie dealing with Christianity, it’s pretty much a given that the teachings are going to be played with fast and loose. But The Calling really jumps the shark in one scene. Without giving too much away, a mysterious character (please allow me to introduce myself) explains to Ms. Harris that she had to be drugged and raped on her wedding night in order to conceive the antichrist because… that’s exactly what God did to an unwitting Virgin Mary. Riiiight.
I suppose, given who the character is (pleased to meet you, hoped you guessed my name), it’s quite possible that he’s lying. But the movie never says so, which means we’re to assume in this film’s universe that Mary must be the worst sufferer of Stockholm Syndrome ever. How else to explain her exclamation in this week’s reading? “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name.” Not exactly the way most rape victims talk about about their abusers, huh?
I think I’ll stick to Mary’s story as originally written, where her fiat “Be it done unto me according to your word” makes her willing participation quite clear because, as the Catechism notes, “By her complete adherence to the Father's will, to his Son's redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church's model of faith and charity.” Plus, I’m pretty sure the real Mary would have been smart enough to recognize something was wrong after her son hung the family dog.