Ah, another day, another month, another year, and yet here we are, with yet another “creepy child could prove to be the end of the world as we know it” effort. The question is, is this just another film that’s hoping to achieve some modicum of success in a subgenre that’s often full of also-rans and poor knock-offs, or is FirstBorn actually bringing something new and fresh to a formula that has seemingly ran dry many moons ago?
On the most basic of levels, FirstBorn is a film centred around young first time parents Charlie (Antonia Thomas) and Jake (Luke Norris). When Charlie’s bun finally makes it out of the proverbial oven, this just so happens to coincide with a splash and dash of supernatural chicanery that all seems to be tied to this new arrival known as Thea. Fortunately for Charlie and Jake, the creepy Elizabeth (Eileen Davies) turns up at the door with the promise of helping them ride out this supernatural storm that’s a-brewing. You see, this initially-eerie older woman has her own experiences and ties to Thea. But can this evil be stopped, just what exactly is at the core of this sinister presence, and can young Thea be saved?
To the credit of director Nirpal Bhogal and co-writer Sean Hogan, the first half of FirstBorn is fantastically crafted, with the building of tension and manipulation of suspense rather masterful to behold. Similarly, the response of the parents, particularly Antonia Thomas (of Misfits fame) as Charlie, is engaging and intriguing to watch unravel. For Charlie, we get to see a new parent battling with her own motherly instincts as she deals with an apparent demon child; but after all, regardless of the demon child moniker or not, this is still her child.
Where the film falls down, however, is in the second half, and in particular in the final third. What begins as a promising, gripping, well-crafted movie soon loses its way and heads towards a bland, cluttered finale that sees some of the key players making choices that seem out of character and against what we’ve seen play out beforehand.
Ultimately, FirstBorn can be chalked up as disappointment and thrown in the ever-increasing basket of ‘what could’ve been’ films. For fans of well constructed tension and suspense centred around interesting characters thrown into a mind-spinning situation, the first half of FirstBorn is fantastic to watch. Sadly, after that Bhogal’s promising picture veers into mediocrity. Make no mistake about it, Nirpal Bhogal, who has also worked on Sket and Misfits, is certainly someone to keep an eye on, and here’s hoping that lessons can be learned from this mixed bag of a movie.
FIRSTBORN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: NIRPAL BHOGAL / SCREENPLAY: NIRPAL BHOGAL, SEAN HOGAN / STARRING: ANTONIA THOMAS, LUKE NORRIS, JONATHAN HYDE, LUCY CHAPPELL, EILEEN DAVIES, GEORGIE SMITH / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 2ND