After the tragic loss of one of her twins at birth, new mother Mary (Christie Burke) suspects a supernatural presence is after her newborn son, Adam. But is it just her grief playing on her mind or is something more sinister at large?
In a world plagued with forgettable cash-grabbing jump scare fests, it’s a welcome surprise when a well-crafted and inspired horror film comes along, and that's exactly the case with Brandon Christensen’s directorial debut, Still/Born.
Led by a sensational performance from Burke in the role of Mary, the film centres more on exploring the grief of a mothers' loss as its core narrative rather than solely focusing on the possible demonic hallucinations that are occurring. Burke’s realistic portrayal of pure emotion and bereavement manages to captivate audiences and keeps them guessing whether she is falling apart or not right until the final frame. Supported by solid ensemble performances from Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3) as Mary’s husband Jack and a welcome appearance from legendary actor Michael Ironside as her psychiatrist, Christie truly manages to shine as a woman on the brink of collapse.
Whereas the film at times tends to drift towards modern horror tropes, including some predictable jump scares, Christensen still manages to create a thick layer of tension and dread through great camera placements and a unique use of security cameras and baby monitors (crying babies are always creepy). Not only that, but in deciding to bring a very realistic situation to the forefront to analyse, he has created a well-realised and gripping tale from start to finish, with some great production values too. Audiences will definitely connect with Mary on a sentimental level as she loses her grip on reality and her husband refuses to listen to her pleas, making him just as much a villain of the story as the lurking supernatural entity. However, that’s not to say that there is a villain at play at all.
The ending is expertly organised in such a way that it really is ambiguous and left to the audience's imagination. Have we seen everything through her eyes? Or has what we’ve seen been manipulated in any way? A rare treat to have a horror film keep its legs all the way through the third act to its conclusion.
As far as independent horror films go, Still/Born is one of the better psychological tales that you will find on the market today, although this might not altogether be the case if it wasn't for our leading lady. Thankfully, her spellbinding work holds together this chilling story of devastating loss that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
STILL/BORN / DIRECTOR: BRANDON CHRISTENSEN / SCREENPLAY: / STARRING: CHRISTIE BURKE, JESSE MOSS, MICHAEL IRONSIDE, REBECCA OLSON / CERT: 15 / RELEASE DATE: 20TH AUGUST 2018