Following a horrific prison riot, injured inmates are taken to a local hospital where they're stalked by a merciless serial killer.
Third in a series of BBC/Paramount co-productions which began in 2001 with MESSIAH, an adaptation of the novel by Boris Starling which introduced the character of Red Metcalfe (played on-screen by intense Scottish actor Ken Stott), a battle-scarred police detective who specializes in major crimes. This complex opener weaved themes of betrayal and redemption into a genuinely frightening scenario in which a psychopath uses religious iconography as motive for a series of appalling murders (no kidding - this one gives SE7EN a run for it's money!). MESSIAH 2: VENGEANCE IS MINE (2002) uses much the same template but is less sure-footed in narrative terms, with an especially poor climactic 'reveal', and a motive which renders the killings both excessive and pointless.
Like the first sequel, "The Promise" ups the number of victims whilst downplaying the gore (big mistake), but Lizzie Mickery's elaborate script focuses attention on one of Stott's colleagues (Frances Grey), an experienced detective plagued by nightmares of a childhood trauma which may - or may not - be connected to the current wave of atrocities. Seasoned mystery addicts will guess the killer's identity fairly quickly, but few will predict the ironic twist which closes proceedings on a note of quiet tragedy. As with previous entries in this ambitious series, the movie combines police proceduralism with scenes of Gothic horror (the fate of the character played by IL CARTAIO's Liam Cunningham is especially shocking), while Stott and his team strive to unravel a series of increasingly bizarre clues, some of which begin to point uncomfortably close to home. Though not even half as good as the original MESSIAH, this third entry is a powerful thriller in its own right, with a strong ensemble cast and impeccable technical credits. Directed by David Drury (HOSTILE WATERS), and followed by MESSIAH: THE HARROWING (2005).
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