Review by Craig Draheim
Director: Julian Richards
Writer: Michael Mahin
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Micheal Pare, Kayleigh Gilbert, Chaz Bono, Rae Dawn Chong, Monte Markham, Peter Bogdanovich
A stillborn baby girl is brought back to life by an electrical storm before being abducted from hospital by a morgue attendant. On her sixteenth birthday, empowered with the gift to manipulate electricity, she escapes her captor and sets out to find her birth mother leaving a trail of destruction behind her.
Marketed as Carrie meets Firestarter (and a dose of Tobe Hooper’s Spontaneous Combustion), Reborn will be endearing to horror fans, because it’s primarily made for them.
Thanks to the success of You’re Next and We Are Still Here, Barbara Crampton has earned a much-deserved rebirth (pun intended) over the last several years. These more recent roles have allowed her to showcase a maturity that highlights what a talent she is. It’s only fitting that she’d end up playing an actress who gained cult success when she was younger and is now attempting to revitalize her career. Don’t get me wrong, Crampton certainly brings a depth to the role that allows it to standout from the many horror movies while dealing with someone in the entertainment industry.
However, at the end of the day any story elements enter territory of a “greatest hits” horror movie. That term is being used to describe movies, especially lately, that feel like they base their premise around, “Did you like that cult classic movie(s)? We sure did, which is why we’re providing you with references and similar plot devices galore to show our horror love.” Yes, I eat it up as a horror fan, but I can’t deny the part of me that wishes I just watched the film(s) they’re paying homage to. I give credit to everyone involved for doing the best they could with the material, but ultimately the movie lacks a personal artistic vision to beat out the oversaturation of content in today’s world.
What I respect though is their attempts to go “big,” with a “high concept” despite the obvious small budget. It’s more likely with that kind of budget for people to settle for a plot that’s in one location, four actors, lots of ambiguity, and all atmosphere. Reborn gives us a more effects-driven plot, and for the most part it works if you’re not a digital effects snob. Again, most of this success is because of the scenes that focus on the emotional arc between Crampton and Kayleigh Gilbert, which makes you wonder what would happen if more time was spent on their relationship. If all the spectacle was condensed to a few instances that they could really build upon, maybe we as viewers could connect more. That’s where the frustration comes in, as it’s one of many projects where the potential for something memorable is within reach, yet the nearest and safest ingredient was grabbed instead. It’s not the budget or cast or the technical aspects that lacks flavor, but rather the creative core.
Still, I enjoyed myself. It was a fun little movie that would possibly be more enjoyable if I was surrounded by like-minded friends, who would also throw out the Spontaneous Combustion reference. Then again, it may be doomed to be one of those middle ground movies that’s neither good nor bad enough to remember, until it is reborn in a different incarnation. Hopefully it’s one willing to tell its own story.
2 1/2 out of 5