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Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Blue Finch Films

article-cover

Directed by Vivieno Caldinelli
Written by Christopher Hewitson, Clayton Hewitson, Justin Jones
2018, 98 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 15th June 2020

Starring:
Taika Waititi as Storsh
Rhea Seehorn as Nordheim
Dan Harmon as Cartwright
Kate Micucci as Claire

Review:

A cute-but-dim couple think that they have found their dream home when they move into a spacious, modern apartment in the big city. The catch? It also happens to be the one-time home of death cult leader Storsh (Taika Waititi!), who killed himself in their bathtub. Now Claire and Paul face an influx of Storsh’s followers, all looking to follow in his footsteps… and commit suicide in their ‘tub.

Move over Come to Daddy, Viveno Caldinelli’s Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss (by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh, if you want to go with its full title) is by far the most hipster movie release of 2020. The sometimes lazy, dismissive epithet ‘hipster’ is not a word I like to use to describe people or things, but there really is no other way of describing Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss. Really, how else are you going to describe a film full of improv comedians riffing off of each other and having lengthy conversations with cutesy animated creatures and imaginary friends? Like the more serious but willfully bizarre Come to Daddy or obscenely surrealist Greasy Strangler, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it will put a lot of people off.

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And yet, its cast demands attention. From man-of-the-moment Taika Waititi as cult leader Smorsh to supporting roles for Rhea Seehorn, Maria Bamford and Dan Harmon (to name but a few), the film is stacked to the hilt with talent. Kate Micucci and Sam Huntington aren’t to be sniffed at as the film’s leads, either. Huntington has come a long way since his Jungle 2 Jungle days.

Even if one isn’t particularly enamoured with its very particular style of comedy, this constant parade of comedians and name talent popping up throughout should hold audiences’ attention to the end. It’s worth it for Waititi alone, whose spaced-out Charles Manson steals the whole film and demands a spin-off of its own. The always magnificent Rhea Seehorn isn’t far behind either, and fans of Better Call Saul should enjoy this showcase for her more amped up, manic side.

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Rather that than Dan Harmon’s abrasive turn as idiot cop Cartwright, granted far too much screentime and importance by the script and story. We mocked Johnny Depp in Tusk and Yoga Hosers, but this is only a fake nose and accent away from a similar level of cringe.

In spite of its own worst (or best, depending on one’s taste for such things) instincts, there’s a great story being told here. As Claire and Paul try to fend off Smorsh’s cultists, the young couple start to buy into the hype and investigate the big man’s teachings for themselves. It’s a fantastic concept, and Huntington and Micucci both sell the pair’s descent into a state of cultist brainwash. I mean, if Taika Waititi were to start a cult, I'd be lining up to join too, bathtub suicide or no.

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Frustratingly self-indulgent but chock full of wit and talent, Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss is a true comedy original, sticking to its guns where others would have toned things down and dialed it back. It’s not for everyone, but those who can get on board will be true believers for life. To each their own - just keep it the hell out of my bathtub.

Grades:

Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
Buy Amazon Uk

About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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