Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss is opening up in theaters this weekend nearly two years after its premiere during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
Following the film’s premiere in April 2018, I spoke with director Vivieno Caldinelli. Since that time, the film was re-cut and also received a shorter title. The new title is much friendlier if you ask me. If you’re a comedy fan, there are comedy cameos throughout the film. Anyway, here’s my full review from when the film premiered during Tribeca:
7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss By Passing Through the Gateway Chosen By the Holy Storsh, or 7 Stages for short, is without a doubt the best comedy–perhaps even the best film–to ever be made about a cult.
Claire (Kate Micucci) and Paul (Sam Huntington) move from the comforts of Ohio to Los Angeles. They found an apartment in the Tabula Building that is surprisingly affordable but it’s only a matter of time before they learn why. It turns out that a former resident of their apartment, Reginald E. Storsh, is a former leader of a cult. He committed suicide in the apartment bathtub. As a result, many of his followers continuously break into the apartment to follow in his footsteps.
At first, the two are annoyed but they strangely find themselves addicted to Storsh’s teachings. It’s absurd and crazy but they soon find joy in helping the cultists kill themselves. Tired of blood appearing everywhere, they create a mix of chemicals entitled “Bliss Juice.” It makes the clean-up less of a trouble for the police with Detective Bloyce J.P. Cartwright (Dan Harmon). Cartwright chased after Storsh for years but it turns out that he has another career in mind: Hollywood screenwriter. Upon learning that Claire works for Global Creative Advertising Agency, Cartwright pitches his screenplay in hopes of turning it into a film.
If you’re looking for the best and funniest death scene in the history of cinema, it comes by way of Kids in the Hall alumnus Mark McKinney. The current Superstore star portrays the Level Six Seven Eight Instructor who teaches Claire and Paul the ways of the Cult of Storsh. McKinney’s role is essentially a cameo but it’s the best one of all in a film that’s chock full of comedy cameos. Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford, Josh Brener, Mindy Sterling, J. Lee, Dana Gould, Ron Lynch, and Craig Cackowski are among them.
There’s a subplot involving reality television star Meegan Nordheim (Rhea Seehorn) and working on her image after caught cheating on her elderly husband. Claire uses the teachings of Storsh to help re-brand her image (“C’mon Now! Wouldn’t you?”).
Vivieno Caldinelli has successfully transitioned into feature filmmaking with one heck of a comedic cast in this absurd debut. The film is hysterical and entertaining from start to finish. In addition to the comedy cameos, what helps take this film home are the lead performances from the always reliable Kate Micucci and Sam Huntington. Micucci, best known for being one half of musical comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates, delivers her best lead performance to date.
SpectreVision has traditionally produced darker films but in forming Company X, they’re able to produce a comedy gem such as 7 Stages. Producers Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Lisa Whalen, and Elijah Wood should be proud of this hysterical feature.
7 Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss by Passing Through the Gateway Chosen by the Holy Storsh is as funny, absurd, and hysterical as genre comedies can get. It’s best not to eat this one with food or drink lest you’ll be following in the footsteps of Storsh.
DIRECTOR: Vivieno Caldinelli
SCREENWRITERS: Christopher Hewitson & Justin Jones and Clayton Hewitson
CAST: Kate Micucci, Sam Huntington, Dan Harmon, Mark McKinney, and Taika Waititi