You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh’

A couple’s L.A. apartment turns out to be cult members’ favorite suicide spot in Vivieno Caldinelli’s wildly shrill comedy.

Vivieno Caldinelli
Kate Micucci, Sam Huntington, Dan Harmon, Taika Waititi, Mark McKinney, Rhea Seehorn, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford.

1 hour 36 minutes

Excessive absurdity is to be expected from a film titled “7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh,” and Vivieno Caldinelli’s feature doesn’t disappoint in that regard. But the outlandishness proffered by this comedy is of such a strident sort that any possible laughs quickly turn to eye-rolling groans. Despite inclusion in the Midnight movies section of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, this atonal affair is unlikely to elicit much good will from audiences of any genre persuasion.

Ohio transplants Claire (Kate Micucci) and Paul (Sam Huntington) have no sooner moved into their new Los Angeles apartment than they’re discovering the reason for its unbelievably low rent: It’s the former home of the Holy Storsh (Taika Waititi), a cult leader who killed himself in the bathtub, and is now a place where his disciples come to follow his fatal lead. This is, naturally, disturbing and upsetting news for the couple, she an ad executive and he a layabout. However, the goings-on are treated like business as usual by mustachioed detective Cartwright (“Community” and “Rick & Morty” mastermind Dan Harmon). He routinely shows up to clean up the mess left behind by these suicidal crazies, who paint spirals on their foreheads and preface their demises with bizarre rituals.

Mostly, those involve an enormous amount of screaming, which is also true of “7 Stages” as a whole. Rarely does a scene go by in which Micucci, Huntington, Harmon or some Storsh devotee — played by Mark McKinney, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford, among others — aren’t speaking at peak hysteria, not to mention rapid-fire speed. Consequently, any sense of comedic timing is lost, drowned out by an endless barrage of earsplitting back-and-forth largely devoid of funny one-liners. A cacophonous soundtrack of eclectic noises and songs (what “La Bamba” is doing here is anyone’s guess) only further compounds the oppressive din.

After coming to terms with their residence’s recurring visitors, Claire and Paul begin reading the Storsh’s holy book. What they learn is that its lessons about being yourself and ignoring outside criticism — which the film also presents on ornate title cards meant to divide the action into chapters — are not only applicable to their unhappy circumstances but downright liberating. The more they embrace Storsh’s teachings, however, the closer they also get to madness, and it’s not long before “7 Stages” is devolving into bloody lunacy, all while vainly attempting to address the problems at the root of Claire and Paul’s long-standing, far-from-romantic relationship.

Be it an animated bird that listens to Paul’s bonkers story about why he and Claire had to flee Ohio, Claire’s successfully blunt ad campaign for a gold-digging reality TV star (Rhea Seehorn), or Cartwright’s desire to use Claire to get his screenplay produced (with Wesley Snipes as the lead), the film bounces around in desperate search of humor. Alas, it’s nowhere to be found, and in its place is only incident after incident marked by crude aesthetics and uniformly shrill performances. Most stunning of all, however, is how thoroughly Christopher Hewitson, Clayton Hewitson and Justin Jones’ script squanders Waititi, whose giant-bearded wacko proves so dull, it’s hard to imagine anyone listening to what he has to say, much less ending their lives to follow him to a blissful afterlife.

Film Review: ‘7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh’

Reviewed at Magno Screening Room, New York, April 30, 2018. (In Tribeca Film Festival — Midnight) Running time: 96 MIN.

Production: MarVista Entertainment presents a Company X production. Producers: Patrick McErlean, Michael Moran, Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Lisa Whalen, Elijah Wood. Executive producers: Stacy Jorgensen, Kate Micucci, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew. Co-producers: Narineh Hacopian, Derek Bishé. Co-executive producers: Alan Pao, Luke Daniels.

Crew: Director: Vivieno Caldinelli. Screenplay: Christopher Hewitson, Clayton Hewitson, Justin Jones. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Mathew Rudenberg. Editor: Matt Latham. Music: Joe Wong.

With: Kate Micucci, Sam Huntington, Dan Harmon, Taika Waititi, Mark McKinney, Rhea Seehorn, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford.

More Film

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

  • Lizzo Coachella Valley Music and Arts

    Lizzo Joins Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in Stripper Film 'Hustlers'

    After the release of her third album and a pair of high-profile Coachella performances, Lizzo announced today that she will be joining Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez in the stripper-themed film “Hustlers.” Based on a true story, the film focuses on strippers who band together to turn the tables on their wealthy Wall Street male [...]

  • Ralph Fiennes attends a special screening

    Ralph Fiennes on Directing Rudolf Nureyev Biopic: 'It's Been a Very, Very Long Road'

    Ralph Fiennes celebrated his latest directorial outing, “The White Crow,” on Monday night in New York City. The Sony Pictures Classics film tells the story of legendary dancer Rudolf Nureyev. “It’s been a very, very long road. We were mad. We were mad to take on this subject of Rudolf Nureyev. Mad. Completely mad,” Fiennes [...]

  • Marc Malkin The Big Ticket Podcast

    Variety, iHeartMedia Launch New Film Podcast 'The Big Ticket' With Marc Malkin

    Variety and iHeartMedia have announced the premiere of “The Big Ticket,” a new weekly film-focused podcast hosted by Marc Malkin, the magazine’s senior film awards and events & lifestyle editor. The podcast will feature sit-down interviews with Hollywood’s hottest stars and filmmakers talking movies, the business and more. New episodes will be released every Thursday [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content