Directed by Julian Richards.
Starring Kayleigh Gilbert, Barbara Crampton, Michael Paré, Rae Dawn Chong, Chaz Bono, Alexa Maris, Monte Markham and Peter Bogdanovich.
A fading actress meets a teenager with strange, supernatural powers who claims to be her daughter – the daughter who was stillborn 16 years earlier.
Reborn starts with Sonny and Cher’s son in a morgue, listening to classical music and lifting the scalp from a woman’s corpse before taking photos of her for his own sexual gratification. It’s a bold opening that takes an even odder turn when a stillborn baby awakens in the morgue after a blast of electricity. Sadly, that confident and unsettling prologue is about as good as Reborn gets. Once the opening credits roll and the narrative flashes forward 16 years, the film becomes a slight, silly slice of unappealing shlock.
Ken – played by the aforementioned Chaz Bono – has raised the child as his own, but Tess (Kayleigh Gilbert) is now determined to meet her real mother. In the grip of her adolescence, she has gained the power to manipulate electricity, which she uses to break free of her creepy guardian and uncover the truth. She inveigles herself into the life of her mother – ageing movie star Lena O’Neill (Barbara Crampton) – but her powers leave a trail of destruction in her wake that brings cop Fox (Michael Paré) into her life.
The central problem with Reborn is that it simply runs out of ideas too early. The running time is a very slight 74 minutes and it often feels as if the film is stretching every sinew to even reach that length. These are characters devoid of depth, existing between flat-footed set pieces that lack any sort of escalating tension. At every turn, Reborn feels impotent and lacking in the punch that makes similarly lean horror movies fly.
That’s despite the best efforts of the talented cast, led by horror stalwart Barbara Crampton. Her performance is an intriguing one with a meta edge about the struggles faced by female actors over 40 in securing plum roles and keeping their star in the ascendancy. Her relationship with agent Dory (Rae Dawn Chong) is neatly antagonistic, especially in the way Lena is tasked with effectively babysitting the rising star (Alexa Maris) who’s currently getting all of the best parts, despite her lackadaisical approach to her craft.
Kayleigh Gilbert tries her best as the supernaturally-charged teen on the hunt for her place in the world, but she’s too often saddled with goofy scenes that require her to stare, crazy-eyed at characters until they are violently murdered by a nearby metal object. She’s doomed to stand in the shadow of Sissy Spacek’s exceptional work in Carrie, most notably with a finale that is essentially just lifted from Brian De Palma’s 1970s classic. There’s very little exploration of her actual character beyond the basic setup and this really hurts the movie in its attempts to establish emotional potency between her and Crampton.
Reborn simply fails to land any of its punches and limps to a conclusion without ever flexing its muscles beyond a generic selection of scare sequences. The actors meander their way through the undemanding dialogue and paper-thin characterisation like they’d rather be just about anywhere else. By the time the movie wheels out Peter Bogdanovich for a late in the day cameo as himself, any goodwill has been tossed well and truly out the window. With so much brilliant stuff currently arriving on VOD early, Reborn is best filed away and forgotten about.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.