Those damn sin eaters, letting people into heaven without God giving the "OK." Like an IRS tax loophole, but here it's even better. Someone who is a sin eater can take away all your sins (for a price), no matter how many and how bad, gobble them up and you're completely forgiven. If God is supposed to be completely omnipotent, omniscient, and all-powerful, how could he allow such an aberration of his laws? I guess that even getting into heaven is a bureaucratic nightmare, unless your pass is stamped with sin eater approval, then God has no choice but to let you waltz on in without a care in the world.
That's what 'The Order' is about. Sin eaters, and the way they circumvent the designs of God like money launderers, but here their currency is people and their salvation. It's all a lot more dramatized than that. Whenever the Catholic church is involved in a religious-horror film it's always portrayed as this dark, sinister organization that hides secrets in catacombs. They believe in witchcraft, black magic fairy tales, and spend time pouring over old macabre documents that are found exactly at the right time so the plot can move forward in a brisk fashion.
Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger) is a young priest who is sent to Rome to investigate the strange death of his colleague. Alex is a leader of a small sect of priests that is slowly disappearing. It's also helpful to mention that the church doesn't really like Alex's bunch very much.
Alex has been trained in all manner of daemon and evil spirit removal, and apparently he does it all the time. This is evidenced when he's attacked by two menacing spirits disguised as children. Winds howl, the ground shakes, but Alex stays calm and banishes the spirits after much howling and gnashing of teeth. When his friend arrives, not two seconds later, he asks Alex what he was doing. Alex coolly responds with a line of dialogue like, "Just vanquishing evil spirits." It was something like that; I don't know I couldn't be bothered to get the exact wording down, because Alex isn't all that bothered by anything he's doing either. All in a days work I guess. This is one of those movies were the strange happenings are compounded as each scene passes, and hardly anyone feigns the least bit of enthusiasm or surprise. At one point in the movie, which still isn't all that clear to me, they visit a deposed evil Catholic priest who lives in the dark tunnels under Rome. In order to find the sin eater they're looking for they must ask "the dying." This literally means, asking the dying. A hooded person falls from the ceiling, hanging from a noose. They must ask their question quickly. It's magic or something, who knows. All I know is that it works, and it moves the story along. So be it.
Alex has been entrusted to kill the sin eater (because the Catholic church hates sin eaters like oil companies hate electric cars), and has been given an extra special sin-eater-death-dagger to complete the task. Once Alex comes in contact with the sin eater he sees the practice of sin eating performed. Apparently sin is stored in our body as some type of jellyfish-shaped mass that when extracted floats through the air and into the sin eater's body. The worse the sins the thornier and more frightening the jellyfish become. Still Alex is less than surprised to see all this happening.
Overall 'The Order' is just about as boring as the world of the supernatural is to Alex. He's not flabbergasted with anything that happens to him, and neither are we. It's a movie without cohesion or suspense. To make it worse a tacky love story is woven in it in order to facilitate the movie's climax. There's not much here worth watching. I wish the sin eater had the ability to suck this movie from my memory banks.
This is another case of the release of a catalog title where you have to question, really? Why now? At any rate, this one – like so many other under-the-radar catalog releases – seems rushed and haphazardly thrown into the world of high definition. The 1080p presentation of 'The Order' features some really quite stunning shots of old Roman buildings, cobblestone streets, and the general aesthetic of the ancient city. Besides the infrequent, clearly defined shots of scenery, the rest of the movie looks dingy and at times is nearly unwatchable. The scene where Alex is confronted by the daemon children is dark beyond belief, with shadows crushing everything in sight. Crushing is a problem most everywhere you turn in this movie, as much of it has Alex and his trusty sidekick walking up and down darkened corridors and catacombs. The color palette isn't the cheeriest out there, but it's just lifeless here. Even the low-key palette seems extra muted here as the colors and contrast enter comatose land. Softness persists throughout the film, and besides some of the scenery shots, there's nothing here that pops out and screams high-def. It's nice that they didn't overly DNR the movie, or tack on tons of noticeable edge enhancement, but when that's the best thing about a Blu-ray presentation you've got troubles.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is just about as bland as its video counterpart. We get some directionality of wind blowing through the soundfield as the daemon children try to approach Alex. There's some echoing in the dark tunnels they navigate and in the large chamber where the black pope sits upon his throne of lies. There's bats, and swirling air that encircles our heads as the jellyfish sin balls escape from their human cases. With all those potentially rich sounds populating the mix, it's hard for me to understand why it left me feeling so unimpressed. It's slightly better than the video, because it at least gets you slightly engaged in the film. Dialogue is nicely done, but comes across a little soft, especially during whispered moments. LFE is called upon during the more intense and scary moments and is the one aspect that really delivers. Everything else about this mix feels too flat to be exciting.
If I were the Catholic Church I'd be mad at sin eaters too. They're taking my business, how dare anyone find a loophole into heaven! Don't worry; Alex is here to set everything straight, all while he deals with his relationship with his suicidal girlfriend. 'The Order' is just way too silly for its own good. It wants desperately to be a scary religious horror film, but when those jellyfish blobs rise out of the chests of sinners how can you not laugh? On the bright side Heath Ledger gives it his all, even though his ability to act surprised about certain strange happenings is rather unsurprising. The fact is this Blu-ray release seems rushed to the format, with subpar video, marginally acceptable audio, and a very thin bunch of extras. Rent this one if you're interested in it, everyone else, don't bother.