Horror Thriller
The Ninth Gate
Dir: Roman Polanski
Star: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1999
Format: Video

If you are a fan of good films, then don't let the fact that Johnny Depp and his usually dubious acting "talent" is in the Ninth Gate deter you from watching it.

The Ninth Gate is based upon the book El Club Dumas written by Arturo Perez-Reverte and tells the story of a book known as "The Nine Gates", (hence the title of the film) which is a book supposedly written by the Devil as a means to summon him and / or attain immortallity and godlike power. Unfortunately there were 2 copies made of the book, so when Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) a wealthy collector of satanic literature acquires a copy of the book, he is eager to learn whether he has the original or one of the copies.

Enter, Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) an unscrupulous and reprehensible character, but an expert and finder of rare books, who is hired to track down the additional 2 copies of the book in order to verify which one of them is the original.

Personally I have to admit that I like The Ninth Gate, it makes a nice change from the excess gore and teenage "scream queen" outings that we have been subjected to recently for a cinematic master like Roman Polanski to make a visually and cerebrally stimulating film amidst such a quagmire that is current "trends". Overrall the film is nicely filmed and Roman Polanski, as always delivers a brilliantly directed film.

Much as I am loathe to admit the fact, Johnny Depp is very good in the role of Corso and plays it in an uncharacteristically non wooden way. He achieves a likeable prescence on screen and enjoys a good chemistry with the ensemble cast. He appears to do better when portraying the more "quirky" almost comedic charcaters as opposed to serious acting roles. Frank Langella has a unique on screen prescence, that is characteristic of former Dracula actors and it is good to see him in a bad guy role that seems to suit him so well. Undoubtibly, his best performance of course being the 70's remake of Dracula, and the less said about Skeletor in Masters of the Universe the better. Emmanuelle Seigner puts in an enchanting performance in a role simply titled "the Girl" and somehow manages to make a scruffy old army jacket and Dunlop tennis shoes look rather sexy (or maybe it was the motorbike). She may have benefitted greatly from a more rounded role but she still outshines the typically scary and sultry Lena Olin.

The Ninth Gate is an undeservingly underrated film, it has no major budget to speak of, no big explosions, no CGI effects and no annoying teenage American Scream Queens. But, what it does have is a good story, excellent direction, strong performances and a subtle ending that manages to leave a real horror film fan eager for more. Realistically, this is more a Horror thriller, than an outright horror film. Yet another Polanski psychological brain teaser, a good watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home