When Dean Corso (Depp), a cunning and accomplished New York rare book dealer, agrees to do a little job for rich publisher and demonologist Boris Balkan (Langella), he little suspects what's coming. Balkan already owns a copy of the 17th-century Satanic text, The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows - reputedly an aid in summoning the Prince of Darkness - but fears it's not authentic. Corso is to track down the other two extant copies and compare their engravings. But Balkan's not the only one after the book, as Corso's encounters with a mysterious girl who seems to be following him (Seigner) and the widow of a previous owner of the text (Olin) make clear. Polanski's film is as elegantly assembled as one would expect, and there's an engagingly understated irony to a number of scenes that suggests the director didn't see the story - from Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel The Dumas Club - as fodder for a serious study in metaphysical evil. That said, for the most part Polanski plays by the rules, refusing to show anything explicitly supernatural despite the superstitions of everyone involved (save Corso, of course), and preferring to rely on old-fashioned mood and telling details for effect. Fun, but a pale shadow of Rosemary's Baby.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||John Brownjohn, Roman Polanski, Enrique Urbizu|