Monday 4 May 2020

Hollywood scuttle: "Reborn"

You can't say we're not getting a varied cinematic diet in this lockdown moment: a week of two films by the cerebral Romanian auteur Corneliu Porumboiu also brings us Reborn, a splattery DTV throwback starring Re-Animator scream queen Barbara Crampton. We now find director Julian Richards - once seen scratching around on the margins of the UK film scene (Darklands, The Last Horror Movie) - out in L.A., telling the low-rent tale of an aging actress (Crampton) whose big career comeback is threatened by the reemergence of the daughter who arrived stillborn sixteen years previously, but (and here you'll just have to bear with it) was revived by a lightning strike in the morgue and grew up to become a wide-eyed teen (Kayleigh Gilbert) with murderously electrokinetic powers. Her first victim will be Chaz Bono, recently rediscovered on Curb Your Enthusiasm as the trans man with a catastrophically large tallywhacker, playing the gropey mortician who's kept the girl locked up since this rebirth specifically to have a go on her on the very day of her 16th birthday. (The character doesn't appear the type who would wait, to be perfectly honest with you.)

So, yeah, it's one of these types of things, and Richards gives it more or less the aesthetic it deserves: conspicuously underdressed and overlit sets, 15-certificate lurid deaths, nondescript or outright clunky dialogue given varyingly tentative readings by whichever local actors were willing to Uber in once the money started to run out. There are flickers of transgressive energy to be spotted here and there, and spots of disreputable pleasure to be had - it's a project that sets itself the lowish bar of replicating the look and feel of those down-at-heel video rentals we snickered and guffawed through as teenagers - but also a lot of dead air and wasted space. Today's youngsters will find themselves having to fast forward through a lot of tepid fringe-Hollywood psychodrama, possibly inserted at the behest of a leading lady who may feel she hasn't had the serious roles she deserves, to get to a cheap version of the good stuff, and the payoff doesn't really seem worth it: one of those artless shock-homages that only reminds you of the considerably better film that inspired it, and a random Peter Bogdanovich cameo that is very much not one for the teenagers.

Reborn is available to rent from today via Amazon Prime. 

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