One of the late Heath Ledger’s lesser known films, The Order has the strange blend of horror, thriller, and supernatural mystery that makes it somewhat surprising that it wasn’t a bigger hit. Now, Fox has released it in stunning high definition, and the end result is that the action-packed special effects are even spookier, even wilder than they were before. It’s more spooky, more wild, and more spectacular than before… but it’s still pretty muddled.
Trying to clean it up for synopsis, Ledger’s young priest, Alex Bernier, goes searching for the reasons behind his mentor’s murder and finds himself up against a taboo Sin Eater. In some cultures, supposedly, there exists a secular person whose role is to guide the dying across the divide to heaven by taking their sins on, so that the deceased will be accepted into heaven. Alex becomes entranced by, and opposed to, a Sin Eater, one William Eden (Benno Furman), who has much at stake, as he’s grown tired of his role and wants to pass it on. Alex is also caught behind the wishes of the Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller), who longs to be the next Pope, and his love for Mara (Shannyn Sossamon), a woman whom he exorcised who he is now in love with. Does that make sense? No? Well, then it’s par for the course.
Outside of our understanding of Alex and the decisions that he has to make, no one is agenda-less and few can be trusted. Alex’s work is to figure out who is telling the truth, and what truth he will believe for himself. That gets muddled in the end, but it does become clear that proclaiming to work for God or just to work for good are not enough: your actions and your words must go together. Alex is like Jesus wandering through the desert (although not sinless), tempted by the devil to do what he wants for his own pleasure and satisfaction, and we discover that Alex must choose good or evil on his own, because no one else will make the decision for him.
A suitable thriller, this one bothered me more than some because the “good” are not good, and the evil are even worse. No one can save us from our sin except for the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus because he was truly God, but we can learn to listen and care for others and help them understand forgiveness and reconciliation if we’ll take the time to hear their stories. In the end, there’s more hope than Alex finds and I hope our readers will find it, too.