There were two big pregnancy-related movies at this year’s Frightfest. And, of the two, Still/Born is probably the more acceptable (the Inside remake isn’t bad per se, it just has no real reason for existing). This by no means makes this a decent film, or even worthwhile, but it is, at the very least, a more original idea that doesn’t rely on knowledge of a previous property to sell it.
The first feature from director Brandon Christensen, from a script he co-wrote with Colin Minahan (Grave Encounters 1 and 2, It Stains The Sands Red – itself a Frightfest standout), sees young parents Mary and Jack struggling with a newborn baby in the wake of losing its twin brother. She wants to preserve the unborn child’s legacy, he thinks they should move on.
Along the way, the two meet with THERAPIST MICHAEL IRONSIDE (a bizarre, but nicely welcome bit of stunt-casting), but rather than admit to having issues, Mary instead lies her way through the session. This leads to some rather spooky goings-on at home that, naturally, can then be chalked up to the new mother being stressed out/sleep-deprived/possibly possessed.
Still/Born is a strange hybrid of a movie, a mixture of Insidious-like chills and the family drama of Rosemary’s Baby. Christie Burke is by turns hysterical or just plain ol’ melodramatic as Mary, while Jesse Moss (creepily un-aged since Ginger Snaps) seems permanently on edge, like even dealing with her is doing his head in. Was she always nuts or?
As with most modern horror movies, the addition of technology doesn’t help matters any. Here, although baby monitors capture the spooky goings-on, still nobody believes Mary, writing her off as being depressed or nuts or whatever. Although an image turning to face her is well done (and hopefully won’t be spoiled pre-release like Sinister) it’s about the only really scary moment.
Brittany Allen (star of It Stains The Sands Red, Replace, and the upcoming Jigsaw) continues her reign, providing spooky noises on the baby monitor, but Mary’s decision to use an old one to communicate with it is utter nonsense. Likewise, although the flick is low on exposition, nothing else about it is subtle, right down to the sound design, which honks when it should creak.
Although Still/Born starts off strong (albeit with the typically loud, traumatising Hollywood birth sequence) with a cute reference to the baby looking “like a little demon baby” it quickly loses the run of itself once the paranormal stuff starts happening. Perhaps if they’d stuck to real-world issues, Burke would’ve come across less outwardly insane. Or maybe it was the script that failed her?
Either way, Still/Born is DOA. And it isn’t even brave enough to make that joke.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Brandon Christensen
Writer(s): Brandon Christensen, Colin Minihan
Stars: Christie Burke, Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olsen, Michael Ironside
Studio/ Production Co: Digital Interference Productions
Length: 87 minutes