Reborn Review: A young girl seeks out her mother in this twisted Shelley-esque tale.
A stillborn child is reanimated during an electrical storm in Julian Richards’ latest film Reborn. Smuggled away by creepy morgue attendant Ken (played by son of Cher – Chaz Bono), Tess (Kayleigh Gilbert) is raised in seclusion as his sister. On her sixteenth Birthday she manages to escape from Ken using her very unique abilities. It seems that the lightening storm that brought her back also imbued her with the ability to control electricity with her mind. Out in the world for the very first time, she sets about meeting her birth mother, a struggling actor Lena O’Neill (played by the first lady of Frightfest – Barbara Crampton). But with sixteen years of repressed anger bubbling beneath the surface, it’s not long before Tess is leaving a body count in her wake.
Reborn may, narratively speaking, have a lot in common with the works of Mary Shelley, however, it is Carrie that it most closely resembles. There’s the whole mistreated reanimated corpse journeying to meet its maker theme, which screams Frankenstein, yet it is the rage-fuelled teen angst that aligns it with the works of Stephen King. Here, rather than telekinesis, we have electrokinesis, which in our tech-dependent society is a much more suitable terror. This ability, though responsible for the majority of kills, isn’t the most unsettling part of Reborn. The true horror of this movie comes from the tragedy of stillbirth, and the toll that takes on a parent.
The responsibility of conveying this grief lies in the very capable hands of Barbara Crampton. Famous in the the eighties for her work in The Re-Animator and From Beyond, Crampton has, in recent years, become the poster woman for indie horror. Pretty much from You’re Next onwards, she has popped up in all of the interesting genre products; highlights include Beyond the Gates and Replace. With Reborn, she adds her usual gravitas to proceedings, but more importantly gets to show some real emotional depth and range here. Her character of Lena is completely broken, unable to move on from her tragedy and everything in her life has suffered, especially her career. She has become so numbed by her grief that she can no longer tap into the emotional cores of her character. It’s only when she connects with Tess that she starts to get her mojo back.
Newcomer Kayleigh Gilbert is great in the role of Tess. She manages to straddle the line of innocence and malice beautifully, and is a Tim Burton animation come to life. Her character does suffer from some poor scripting however, an element that lets the film down. Tess’ interactions with her victims are so over the top and camp that even those not familiar with the genre will be able to have a stab at the predictable dialogue that is spouted. It’s all a little too cliched which means that the film stalls early on and never quite gets back on track.
A traumatic ordeal forms the basis for an interesting contemporary spin on two classics – Frankenstein and Carrie, but sadly fails to fulfil its potential.
Reborn review, Kat Hughes, October 2018.
Reborn was reviewed at the Arrow Video Frightfest Halloween 2018.