×
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.

Director:
Vivieno Caldinelli
With:
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

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR More Reviews Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple' Film Review: ‘Storm Boy’ Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. More Reviews Iranian Film Festival [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    ‘Glass’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Glass.” Ads placed for the superhero thriller had an estimated media value of $9.89 million through Sunday for 1,183 national [...]

  • Danny Glover

    Danny Glover Joins 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Sequel

    Danny Glover has joined the cast of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel. His role is being kept under wraps, as is the storyline. Glover will star opposite Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, all of whom are set to return. More Reviews Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple' Film [...]

  • DJ Khaled Bad Boys

    DJ Khaled Joins 'Bad Boys' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    DJ Khaled has rounded out the cast of Sony’s upcoming “Bad Boys” sequel “Bad Boys for Life,” joining returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Khaled will also join series newcomers Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, and Paola Nuñez. Joe Pantoliano is on board to return as Captain Howard. More Reviews Iranian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content