Rufus Sewell-watchers reading this review are probably thinking, “Surely, he has to be the scythe-wielding hooded killer, right? Perhaps he protected the newborns from harm because he’s in league with the devil?”
You would wrong about that. The killer is actually Mary’s birth mother, played by Stacy Edwards, who you might recognize from In The Company Of Men. We’re told that Edwards was “shunned” by the New Bethlehem community when Mary was an infant, but she still resides in the neighboring town. Mary doesn’t even know her mother is alive until late in the film, when she dashes into town to escape Elder Beacon’s goon squad and her mother gives her shelter. Turns out, Mary does have the Devil inside her, and when the clock strikes midnight, she goes on a neck-snapping, barn-burning rampage.
That’s all well and good, but these twists wind up affirming the wisdom of Beacon’s dogma and viciousness. What’s worse, Beacon also reveals himself to be a molester in the course of the film, “inspecting” the girls’ bodies to get a sense of any evil presence that might be lurking within. And he winds up being the one in the right! It’s the tolerant, rational people like Mary’s father who are out to lunch.