A fallen journalist visits a small town to do a ‘cattle mutilation’ story, but the one-day outing for a forgettable byline turns into a long complicated trip of alleged miracles and redemption. Directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Sam Raimi’s banner ‘Ghost House Pictures’, 2021 horror film ‘The Unholy’ is an interesting story about a girl who claims to have been granted special powers by virgin Mary.
Actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Gerry Fenn, an infamous journalist who fabricates news. Just when his career couldn’t get shittier, he lands in a small town just in time to see a deaf-mute girl gain speech and healing powers out of the blue. Cricket Brown plays Alice, the young girl in question, who is raised by an uncle who is a priest at the only church in their small town. The small town gains worldwide attention for its miracles, Gerry Fenn gets exclusive access to the story of the moment, and it seems like a win-win situation for all. While everybody believes Alice is the vessel for Virgin Mary, the source of her powers is something very unholy. Mary in this film isn’t ‘the good shepherd’ like Jesus, but someone who needs sacrificial lambs.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a corrupt scribe is the glue that holds this movie together. Since it’s based on a 1983 novel of the same name by James Herbert, the plot is engaging for most parts. Evan Spiliotopoulos has managed to direct a tale that has enough meat to spark conversations around religions and blind faith. However, the cinematography is quite weak, especially when it comes to the special effects used for the supernatural elements in the film. The makers could’ve used something simpler to depict the evil forces at play, instead they turn back to the 1980s, using movements and make-up that are too outdated to scare adult viewers. In-fact, nothing about the movie is scary at all. You have the same old flickering of lights, a creepy being slowly crawling on the floor (even though it can apparently move at the speed of light when it wants to), cloaked mannequins in a dusty old ancient room, blood coming out of eyes of statues. If you are a horror fan, you’ve seen it all before.
Cricket Brown as the protagonist Alice isn’t exactly bad, but she doesn’t stand out either, a forgettable character in what could’ve been a fantastic religious themed horror movie. There is enough back-story, with historical precedents that makes the first-half believable and gripping. Too bad that the makers give into the temptation of giving the audience an almost fairy-tale like ending. The climax was weak, rushed and quite laughable. It’s still worth a one-time watch for those who love horror movies, especially if you watched and liked ‘Midnight Mass’, the 2021 mini-horror series.
It’s a 6/10 from me. You can stream the film on Netflix.
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