Child of Darkness, Child of Light – James Patterson

Child of Darkness, Child of Light by James Patterson
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment
Published by USA Network on May 1, 1991
Genres: Fiction, Horror
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A catholic priest is sent out to investigate two alleged virgin births, one is about to give birth to the son of God, the other the son of the devil.

Trivia time: What was the first James Patterson book made into a movie? You might think that the answer is Along Came a Spider, where Morgan Freeman played Patterson’s famous cop Alex Cross. You would also be wrong, because three years before Along Came a Spider was a book and ten years before it was a film, the USA Network created a made-for-TV movie based on Patterson’s 1980 horror novel Virgin.

Child of Darkness, Child of Light is a pretty straightforward adaptation of Patterson’s early attempt to write horror. It’s surprisingly graphic for a TV movie (though I guess USA Network is cable?) and fills that campy B-movie horror genre in a satisfactory way. Flat acting, poor pacing, and hilarious action sequences belie a shoestring budget. It starts off with a jarring, discombobulating action sequence that’s never fully explained, then pivots to an investigative thriller before concluding with a kitschy horrorfest that still tame enough for TV.

The movie is about two virgin conceptions, one of whom will give birth to the Second Coming of Christ. It’s supposed to be a plot twist that the second will give birth to the Antichrist, but the title—Child of Darkness, Child of Lightkinda gives that away. Father Justin (played by Anthony John Denison) has to determine which child will be which. Meanwhile, apocalyptic pandemics begin to rage across the earth but don’t worry too much about those because you never really see any effects from them outside of characters watching newscasts.

The one good thing about this movie is that it is Brendan Fraser’s film debut. He plays “John’s friend,” John being the high school boy claiming to be the father of one of the unborn children. I wouldn’t have recognized him if I hadn’t known to be looking. The full film is on YouTube, if you want to give it look. Frasier makes an appearance 69 minutes into the film.

Virgin was the best of all of James Patterson’s pre-1990s novels. Not that it was good, exactly, but it was the best he had written. Child of Darkness, Child of Light does not improve on it. It’s a better movie if you’ve read the book, because then you have book context for things the movie just skips. If you have no knowledge of the book, good luck following the story.