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The Eternal


The Eternal

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In the beginning, two movies called The Mummy were due for theatrical release in 1999: There was the lackluster blockbuster that opened a few weeks before The Phantom Menace, and the decidedly smaller-scale movie that recently emerged on video as The Eternal after first being redubbed Trance. In it, Alison Elliott and Jared Harris play a superficially repentant alcoholic couple who retreat to Elliott's ancestral Irish home with their young, bespectacled son. Greeting them is Elliott's uncle, played by Christopher Walken, who wastes no time in introducing Elliott to the mummified corpse of a druid witch currently residing in his basement—a corpse that not only bears a striking resemblance to Elliott, but whose presence might also explain her recent hallucinatory blackouts. Written and directed by Michael Almereyda, who made a stylish, witty horror film with 1994's Nadja, The Eternal has more than a few good ideas floating around—with Elliott's alcoholism, the family's troubled past, and the mummy serving as embodiments of their country's troubled existence—but it never really finds its focus; imagine a cross between The Shining and The Secret Of Roan Inish in which the protagonists spend most of the film wandering around in a drunken stupor, and you'll pretty much get the idea. It may be more thoughtful, less derivative, and ultimately more interesting than this year's other Mummy, but it still feels half-baked.