REBORN: A Reminder of an Era
Whilst photographing a deceased woman’s remains, a troubled morgue worker witnesses the rebirth of a stillborn baby by lightning strike and strange Electro-kinetic energy. Years later the child, Tess (Kayleigh Gilbert) now a young woman was imbued with the unique ability to control the same force that revived her seeks out the answers of her own abandonment, killing her way to her mother Lena (Barbara Crampton, Re-Animator, From Beyond) a struggling actress looking for a comeback, still trying to process the death of her child.
Julian Richards’ Reborn riffs on familiar themes whilst trying to walk on its own two re-animated feet. A genuinely unsettling introduction with extremely dark connotations offers promise of something intriguing but soon gives way to almost laughable soap opera situations of high drama. Dialogue is at times ham-fisted and undercuts the central premise, reducing its characters and ultimately the whole movie to little more than a few good ideas.
Both Crampton, and Kayleigh Gilbert manage to squeeze some juice from the roles and inject some nuance into what could have been two-dimensional characters but both struggle to rise above the scant offerings the script manages to conjure. Written by Michael Mahin the screenplay takes a solid concept and sadly undermines it with moments of high camp, sacrificing character development and horror for underwhelming set pieces where Tess’s targets get offed in a CGI enhanced splurge. The initial premise of a mother’s anguish and guilt manifest losing a child and never being fully able to grieve or find any measure of closure, only to come face to face with them years later, alien and changed through neglect and abuse, is deeply troubling.
Sadly this is squandered and lost to something akin to a blood soaked X-Men spin off. Interesting snippets of story are abandoned in favor of moving onto the next kill, characters that seem to have baring on the narrative aren’t given any screen time to help bring substance to what ends up being a very economical run time of 80 minutes. The disappointing conclusion uses a very familiar jump-scare stinger and leads into a coda that cheapens Lena’s ultimate resolution –– allowing her to process the death of her daughter but then use it to her own advantage just leaves a bad taste in the mouth –– even after such a relatively scant serving.
Reborn is only too happy to remind us that its star is someone dear to the genre –– not only is the character a struggling B-movie actress searching for a comeback (Crampton herself currently enjoying a rejuvenation within the genre) but her performance studio is adorning with posters and reminders of the star’s own real life hits, The Beyond and Re-Animator, and while this fans the embers of nostalgia it also serves to remind us of better films from a golden era of the genre.
Reborn has obvious inclinations of comparison to DePalma’s Carrie (1976) and also a tang of Shelley about it: lofty lineage, but sadly both ghosts that haunt a film with a Frankensteinian feel of several well-worn horror tropes, sown together to create a lesser whole.
Reborn was directed by Julian Richards.