We’re all familiar with the demonic possession trope in horror. Personally, it’s one of my favorites when done right. Because of this interest, I was intrigued by the description and trailer for The Corruption of Divine Providence. I went into the viewing expecting the film to be similar to those I’ve seen before and was pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness of the story.
It begins with an intense scene. We’re shown a snippet of a hypnosis session that brings forth a supernatural entity. From there, the film jumps back a few days before take us on a journey with the Seraphin family. Jeanne (Ali Skovbye) is a teenage girl who presents with stigmatic wounds. She survives a close brush with death and then begins to experience divine events. The community becomes enthralled, and some seek to profit from her newfound spiritual wisdom, while others seek financial gain or fame. There are lingering questions regarding whether or not Jeanne is a true stigmatic or experiencing some sort of mental illness.
This film has several positive aspects that stand out. The first of these is the fact that it’s not just another possession tale, focusing on exorcism. While there are some gory and unsettling moments, the real focus is on the question of faith. The Seraphin family is part of a Catholic community in a small Manitoba town, with Jeanne’s father, Louis (David La Haye), being of Metis descent. When members of another local tribe offer spiritual assistance, Louis shuns their traditional views. This clash between faiths remains prominent throughout the film, but eventually, we’re shown their similarities. Viewers are also left to question their own faith and that of others, after witnessing several acts of hypocrisy and seeing how Jeanne’s ordeal is exploited for others’ gain.
Visually, The Corruption of Divine Providence is memorable. Shot on location in Manitoba, at times it offers stunning views of the landscape. Scenes within a local church and graveyard stand out and add to the atmosphere. Some of the bloody scenes featuring Jeanne’s wounds are unsettling.
While I liked the overall premise and the message behind the film, something was missing. In some instances, the acting left a bit to be desired. The standouts for me were Ali Skovbye and Tantoo Cardinal (as Juniper Fairweather). The character development fell a bit flat for me as I needed more background, especially on the relationship between Jeanne’s parents. There is a clear tension between Louis and Danielle (Elyse Levesque), but I just didn’t see enough of their interactions or know enough of their past. Both were flat, almost emotionless characters at times, and I needed more of their story to connect.
There’s a lack of insight into Jeanne’s personal experience. Because of this, some of her statements regarding faith and her knowledge of what’s to come seem disjointed. The film could’ve benefited from more scenes featuring her supernatural experiences, from her viewpoint. There’s a scene in which she is interviewed by an evangelical preacher, and that would’ve been a great time for her to answer questions on what she had seen and been told by divine forces. There’s really so much to explore in this film—it might’ve been improved by a narrower focus or a longer run time to expand on the story.
The Corruption of Divine Providence is a story that has a heart and is a unique contribution to the sub-genre of horror which explores faith. It’s definitely a memorable film in many ways, and I think viewers will appreciate the variety it brings and the questions raised.
6 out of 10