The Ninth Gate
1999, Dir. Roman Polanski
Reviewed By Richard Bell
The Ninth Gate is an occult movie starring Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin and Emmanuel Seigner. Its controversial director, Roman Polanski, is responsible for Rosemary’s Baby, possibly one of the greatest occult movies and The Fearless Vampire Killers – definitely not!
The story centres around Depp’s character, Dean Corso, a ‘book detective’ and dubious dealer who is hired by Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to authenticate his copy of a book reputedly co-written by the Devil!
After a series of coincidental murders, a paranoid Depp begins to suspect dark forces are at work.
Enter the agent provocateur, Seigner, who befriends Depp and appears at the most opportune times, possessing uncanny knowledge that doesn’t seem to phase Depp too much as he believes her to be working for Balkan.
The story builds to a (literally) climactic ending although it could all so easily be a dream-like in Jacob’s Ladder.
This film is tightly scripted, beautifully paced, loaded with symbolism and positively brimming with menace. The effects are mercifully minimal and well done with great performances all round.
It had a $38M budget and recouped $59M at the box office and its ratings are: 6.7/10 IMDb, 42% Rotten Tomatoes and 4.2/5 Amazon.
I have watched The Ninth Gate more than a dozen times and am still captivated by the mystique and storytelling.
My favourite part is when Seigner flies down a set of stairs to defend Depp against a thug.
He never did get her name!
Richard Bell is a poet and writer with a passion for the horror genre. He has work published by Weasel Press, Carmen Online Theatre, Night Gallery, The Horrorzine and the Fragments of Fear series on YouTube, under the name Rick Nightmare.
He lives in a sleepy hamlet in Northern England with his family and galloping insomnia.