The Ninth Gate (1999)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Ninth Gate</strong> (1999)

(In theaters, March 2000) Horror is a curious genre, as it’s very dependent on its conclusion to successfully contextualize its initial eeriness. Explain too much, or produce a boring explanation (oh no, another vampire!) and the audience feels ripped off. Explain too little, or don’t explain at all, and the audience also feels ripped off. The Ninth Gate manages a superb first two hours, but then negates most of its impact with a gratuitously ambiguous ending that might or might not explain the past two hours. Too bad, really, because the first 5/6th of the film are directed with skill (though the focus seems slightly off most of the time), written with some verve and carried by Johnny Depp’s character. Plus, the glimpse into rare-book collecting is fascinating, and makes us forget that the pace of the film is glacial and that not much happens for a horror story. But the finale, the finale… ow… It’s no coincidence if half the theatre audience groaned when the credits came up.

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