Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Prime Time: Reborn (2018)

Maybe I would have enjoyed Reborn more if it hadn't seemed so smug about having a couple of well-known stars in the cast. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so irked by a quote that referred to it as "Carrie for a new generation".  Or maybe, just maybe, I enjoyed it just as much as I could have enjoyed it. I certainly didn't hate it, despite a very silly opening act, but it's not a film that makes me want to note down the names of everyone involved.

The rather distasteful starting point for the plot concerns a stillborn baby brought back to life and cared for by a Frankenstein-like morgue attendant. That baby grows up to be Tess (Kayleigh Gilbert), a young woman with the ability to control electricity around her in a way that can harm others. Tess ends up spending time with actress Lena O'Neill (Barbara Crampton), an actress who doesn't realise that her child has come back into her life. It's not Lena's fault though, considering she was told that her child died during her pregnancy. The bodycount starts to rise, and Tess has to decide when she can tell her mother the truth. Meanwhile, a detective (Michael Paré) is trying to piece things together.

Director Julian Richards might do a decent job with the material here, but it's often very obvious that writer Michael Mahin doesn't have too much experience in his field. This is a very (mercifully?) short film, with a runtime of approximately 77 minutes, but it still feels a bit baggy and disappointingly lacking in the conviction to just keep delivering as many thrills and moments of bloodshed as possible.

I like Crampton in pretty much anything, and her presence here is a big bonus, but that's not to diminish the work of Gilbert, who actually manages to be the best part of the film. Equal parts deadly and sympathetic, Gilbert works hard to sell the sillier aspects of the script and keep her character as a villain that you can spend most of the runtime rooting for. Paré, on the other hand, has one of the least interesting roles in the movie, and he feels sadly wasted. Rae Dawn Chong has a small role, and is as wasted as Paré, but I guess having her name to add to the cast list is a bonus (hey, I would be lying if I said it hadn't helped to lure me in).

Reborn was something I didn't mind watching, for the most part. While not quite good, it certainly didn't feel bad. I could overlook a lot of the minor failings because I was enjoying the chance to watch Gilbert and Crampton shine. If the film had gone for some standard and cheesy ending then I might have been recommending this, with reservations, to like-minded horror fans. Unfortunately, the very last scenes are a huge mis-step, ending the whole thing on a note of backslapping cutesiness that jars with everything that came along beforehand. There's also a cameo that actually caused me to roll my eyes so far to the back of my head that I saw the very rear section of my own brain.

Saved by the cast, almost ruined by the ending, Reborn ends up as something supremely average. It's certainly not a film I can imagine anyone watching more than once.


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