td_jakes.jpgWoman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, produced by T.D. Jakes, is a follow-up to the reverend’s 2004 film of the Woman Thou Art Loosed name, which starred Kimberly Elise as a woman with a troubled past, trying to put her life back together.  In the latest Loosed, On the 7th Day, which is in limited release in AMC theaters across the country, we meet the Ameses of New Orleans.

David Ames (played by Blair Underwood, who was also a producer) has a Ph.D. and is a college professor. Kari Ames (Sharon Leal) is a real estate agent. David and Kari apparently are successful, since they live in a big house in a gated community. All seems perfect with the happy couple, parents to 6-year-old Mikayla Ames (Zoe Carter), until Mikayla is kidnapped.

In the script by Cory Tynan, the audience is taken on a wild chase of a serial killer simply called “MK,” short for the Marrero Killer. The Marrero Killer — not sure how he got the name — is kidnapping little black children and killing them on the sixth day of their abduction. Tynan also lets the audience in on Kari’s past as an ex-convict who had been arrested for narcotics, prostitution and battery. 

This is usually the point at which the dramatic music plays and someone says, “The plot thickens.” If only that were fully true. For even though Tynan’s script has the trappings of a great thriller, he fails to do two things: flesh out his plot, and write a film that is indicative of and pays homage to the first. On the 7th Day has only one thing in common with the first Woman Thou Art Loosed: the fact that Kari was raped by her father.

Director Neema Barnette does the film no favors by failing to ensure that all of the scenes have a purpose. There are scenes that are supposed to shed light on the past, but don’t quite seem to measure up to enlightenment.

David Beatty further exacerbates the lackluster appeal with his jerky editing. At times it was hard to tell whether 7th Day was a bad episode of the Twilight Zone. The editing style makes some sense when one factors in the fact that Beatty has edited tons of television movies and won an Emmy for his work. On the 7th Day, however, is a theatrical release and should be edited as such. Those creepy African sculptures with the big Westernized eyes are not just weird, but cheese up the film.

Speaking of cheese, Pam Grier phones in her performance as Detective Barrick, the lead investigator of Mikayla’s disappearance. Barrick’s catch phrase, “You got that there,” was more comical than menacing.

It also didn’t help that Tynan didn’t explore his meatier plot points. Kari’s forgiveness of her dad — the catalyst for the film’s climax — is glimpsed in a fleeting moment and not spotlighted as the crux of the film. I gathered during the first few minutes that the film is more about forgiveness than anything else: Jakes’ sermon topic — “Have you dug up that root of bitterness?” — is a precursor of what to expect in the movie. That kind of plot point is supposed to make the film flow in a common thread. Instead the forgiveness theme falls on its face and is then swept under the rug.

Seeing films made by blacks and for blacks on movie screens is not a common occurrence unless the title starts with “Tyler Perry Presents…” So having Jakes release On the 7th Day offers hope of seeing more black casts on movie screens. After all, he produced last year’s black-love hit, Jumping the Broom.

Although On the 7th Day is a bit of a disappointment when it comes to a meaty plot, and an even bigger disappointment when it comes to editing, it is a decent film. And Tynan redeems himself with the surprise twist at the end.

CO-STARS: From left, actresses Jaqueline Fleming, Samantha Beaulieu and Sharon Leal also are featured in Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.