Or to use the original title, Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh. Let’s just call it Seven Stages for short.
This movie drew my attention for two reasons: It is produced by SpectreVision – purveyors of such classics as Color Out of Space and Daniel Isn’t Real – and stars Taika Waititi. Or that was what I was lead to believe. As it turns out, Seven Stages was picked up by SpectreVision after it ran the festival circuit, and Waititi appears only in a few, memorable scenes as the deceased cult leader, Storsh.
And that is what the movie is about, too, the cult.
We follow Claire and Paul (Kate Micucci and Sam Huntington) in their new LA apartment, which soon is revealed to be the location – the bathtub specifically – of Storsh’s suicide. Thus it has become his disciples’ gateway by way of suicide to the next realm. Every night, one by one, a new member shows up to take that trip. No wonder the rent was cheap.
Claire and Paul go from being freaked out to being fascinated by Storsh’s writings and soon decide to help the cult members on their quest. From there, it goes even darker.
dark… Seven Stages is, subject matter aside, not a dark movie. It’s rather a borderline absurdist comedy which sets out to do little more than throw around a few good laughs. Many times it succeeds at that. Dan Harmon makes for a likable bumbling cop, filled with ambitions of becoming a screenwriter. Maria Bamford has a brief, but memorable appearance as a cult member, as does Brian Posehn. Seven Stages is littered with who-is-who of the more absurd side of comedy.
Oddly, that is also the movie’s biggest problem. The two-paragraph plot summary above sums up most of Seven Stages, and there is little more to the ninety-minute runtime than a cavalcade of cameos. Seven Stages is a funny movie in all its individual gags, but as the one long skit it is, it gets tiresome. I’d almost recommend watching half an hour of Seven Stages a night. It’s not like you’re going to forget any plot points.
It is still a movie that should be watched, mind you. When the laughs come, they come hard. And while he’s only in it for about five minutes, Taika Waititi makes the most of every second. Micucci and Huntington tie the package together as likable protagonists, too.
Enjoy Seven Stages, much like you’d enjoy a seven-course meal. Devour it slowly and savor every bite. You don’t want to get sick of or from it after all.