The Unholy (2021)

The Unholy (2021)

The cover to the Australian bluray

Film: I picked up the new Blumhouse film, The Unholy, on a whim. I had wandered into my local movie retailer to pick up a couple of different films, and in a classic case of ‘while you’re down there’, I grabbed this as well.

One thing I didn’t realise until the end of the film is that this film is based on a book, The Shrine, by one of my favourite horror authors, James Herbert, who also wrote The Rats trilogy, and Sepulchre.

This film version of that book, was written and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, who wrote the live action version of Beauty and the Beast from Disney.

The film starts on February 31st, 1845 – we, the viewer, get to witness the burning of a witch from the POV of the victim, as her soul or spirit (or whatever) is cast into the body of a doll.

… and yes, that date is correct…

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Fenn

Flash forward to now, or yesterday, or tomorrow, and we meet scumbag washed-up alcoholic photographer Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who now works for a National Enquirer, Alien Elvis Stole My Sister- styled website who has been sent to the small town of Banfield to photograph a mutilated cow, only to find the ‘mutilation’ was actually a graffitied Metallica ‘M’ on the cow’s hindquarters.

Whilst with the farmer, Fenn notices an object shining under a dead tree and after a bit of digging, finds a small doll, which the farmer suggested may have been a ‘Kern Baby’, a doll that farmers used to bury in their fields to get good crops. Fenn smashes the idol and takes a few photos to try to salvage his journey to the small town and prepares to leave.

On the trip out he crashes his car after swerving to miss a girl standing in the middle of the road. He climbs out of the vehicle and follows her, only to find her return to the dead tree he was at earlier.

Cricket Brown as Alice

We quickly learn her name is Alice (Cricket Brown) and that she is the deaf-mute niece of the local priest, Father Hagen (William Sadler), but the very next day, both her hearing and voice return to her, and she claims to have been visited by the Holy Mother, Mary.

In addition, she discovers she is also able to heal the sick, bringing a paraplegic boy to his feet, and healing her uncle’s lung cancer… but Fenn is getting his OWN visions, and think perhaps that something more unholy might be behind the healings…

Herbert’s book was an absolute corker that took me about a day to read, which, if I’m honest, is how I find all his books. This film is disappointing in comparison. Of course, the idea is interesting, but Spiliotopoulos’ modernisation and translation of it has several tropes that are overused in this religious type of film. It’s not all bad though.

Even though Morgan feels like he’s sleepwalking at times, and Cary Else’s’ performance is occasionally ostentatious and William Sadler is… well, William Sadler, the winner of the acting department was Cricket Brown, who plays both the victim and the bold promoter of our evil, is consistently on-point. She plays every scene with the confidence the role required. I’ll point out that even though what I said of the actors sounds like an insult to each of them, it actually somehow meshed really well.

Some of the special effects were a little off, especially the fire effects, but the make up of the actual baddie was absolutely terrifying, and a credit to the make up department. It was actually difficult to look at and surprising when it’s finally exposed.

Unfortunately this film was one that was hit by Covid-19 during its filming, and one of the stipulations made when they returned to filming was that the cast had to be reduced to 10 only on set. This was something I did actually notice, particularly with a red headed cast member who stood out, so when they were reused, it was a little obvious. I wrote it off as being the same character just in a different part of town.

I wanted to like this, and I think if I really dig deep within me, maybe I do a little, but it was just to generic, and a little boring, for it to be really successful as a good film.

Score: **

The Australian Bluray menu screen

Extras: None.

Score: 0

WISIA: There is actually something about this film that would tempt me to watch it again, even if I can’t put my finger on it.

This review was done using the Australian 2020 Bluray release.

The Kern Baby

The Evil Dead (1981) Review

Finally someone suggested for me to review a film they love! I am stoked that someone cared enough to take the time to do so. Here is one from the re re re re watch pile…
The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead bluray cover

Film: What can be said about The Evil Dead that hasn’t been said before? Nothing! So why bother reviewing it at all? By the very fact that you are reading this review means you must have already seen it, or intend on seeing it! Why haven’t you seen it though? Are you crazy? It’s horror movie royalty; not like the king or queen, but certainly the insane half-uncle who has been locked in the Tower of London for thirty years and fed nothing but the dead corpses of prostitutes!

I’m not even going to give you a synopsis of this film, I mean, you’ve all seen it! You all know it’s about a bunch of kids who go to an abandoned cabin in the woods, read from an evil old book which bring forth demons who possess the dead and the living and very soon they are all picked off in bloody and gory fashions! I’m not gonna tell you that, you KNOW it already! everyone does!

The Evil Dead: Bruce Campbell as Ash

My relationship with this film starts when I was a young teen, and in high school I had friends that were older than me… I was one of the stage/ acting/ theatre kids so my group was a bunch of people ranging from 13 or so to 16 or 17, we were a real mix of ages, with me being on the younger side, and I was getting invited to older kids parties and getting to make out with older girls. I got to see this pic at a friend’s house who wasn’t one of the theatre kids, but a friend of one of them, and we, about ten of us, had a sleepover at his place and ate pizza and watched horror films. 

One of those films was The Evil Dead and it did two things: scared the crap out of me, and made me a lifetime fan of the film, and not just this film: I love Evil Dead II and the remake! I can’t comment on the TV series yet as I’ve not had an opportunity to watch it…

… but let’s just say as far as Army of Darkness is concerned… we’ll, I’m not a fan.

The Evil Dead: the slow approach.

So this is the review. If you have seen it, I hope this review spurs you on to watch it agin, and if you haven’t, well everything you have done so far in your life is a waste, as you haven’t yet seen The Evil Dead.

Score: *****

The Evil Dead menu screen

Format: This Australian release bluray of The Evil Dead runs for about 85 minutes, and has a pretty good 1.85:1 picture with an really good DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of awesome extras on this disc!

Commentary by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell which is a really complete commentary and highly informative.

Picture-in-picture: Join Us! the Undying Legacy of The Evil Dead is really cool. Other horror directors and producers like Society’s Brian Yuzna, Re-Animator’s Stuart Gordon, 30 Days of Night David Slade, The Blair Witch Project’s Dan Myrick… so many more, discuss why The Evil Dead is so damned important, but it’s done as a picture-in-picture deal with a mini pop up screen as they all talk.

One By One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of the Evil Dead looks at the genesis of the film, and where it went. Heaps of interviews with the stars and various crew members make for a cool 50 odd minute making of/ retrospective.

Treasures From the Cutting Room Floor is a B-roll of unused footage and goes for yet another hour.

At The Drive In is an Anchor Bay Q&A and DVD giveaway from a promo event for the film from a few years ago.

Discovering Evil Dead looks at the horrible events that Palace Pictures had to go through to get The Evil Dead released on VHS in the U.K. during the Video Nasty era.

Make-up Test is… a make-up test from the film, and a few effects shots tested as well.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s The Evil Dead, everyone should watch it a couple of times a year.

The Evil Dead: screamin’!