STILL/BORN

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

Incontrol director Kurtis David Harder lent his producing talents to Still/Born, a psychological drama that opened the final day of FrightFest 2017.

There were a number of entries in the weekend that set their stall out nicely, but never quite hit the resolution that was expected. Still/Born, alongside the likes of Killing Ground and Alone amongst others, was one that had a lot of sufficient atmosphere and style, particularly for the budget that it was made for, but the audience was certainly left wanting at the end.

The film is admirable up to a point and ticks all the boxes for this type of film, but is a little too reliant on visuals prevalent in past successes, notably the Paranormal Activity series (in-house camera editing is part of the pallet here) and one critic has described it in some ways like Rosemary’s Baby, which no film can really hold a candle or cross to, given that it was the first of the modern day ‘Devil’ films which continued with the likes of The Exorcist and The Omen.

Young couple Mary (Christie Burke) and Jack (Jesse Moss) relocate to a new suburban town after the traumatic death in birth of one of her twin boys. Mary is understandably trying to cope with being a new mother as well as the overshadowing post-natal depression that has combined the sadness of loss.

Mary makes friends with a local mother, Rachel (Rebecca Olson), but visions and hurt start to rear their ugly head, coupled with the possibility that an evil spirit might well be out to claim the life of her living son….

Still/Born goes as far as it does thanks to the excellent lead performance of Burke, who is faultless in the portrayal of a young, emotional mother simply trying to come to terms with her grief. Moss and Olson hold the screen very well too and director Brandon Cristensen, who is also co-writer with Colin Minihan on the film, demonstrates some flair with key sequences during the first half of the film.

It’s a shame the film doesn’t quite hit the mark at the end and there are moments where you wonder what the intention and overall twist might well be. Perhaps this was the filmmaker’s intentions, leaving an air of mystery about what is going on throughout, but even in films like The Omen, visual motifs and references are relative to the result and structure - and the audience does not want to feel short-changed when the end credits roll.

We liked some aspects of the film, but like most viewers at the festival and in subsequent screenings from now on, it falls short of the (birth) mark.

STILL/BORN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: BRANDON CRISTENSEN / SCREENPLAY: COLIN MINIHAN, BRANDON CRISTENSEN / STARRING: CHRISTIE BURKE, JESSE MOSS, REBECCA OLSON / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE DATE TBA



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