Still/Born

Mary, a new mother, gives birth to twins, but only one of them is alive. While taking care of her living child, Adam, she suspects that something, a supernatural entity, has chosen him and will stop at nothing to take him from her.

Scene one, Int. Delivery room, Day. Mary (Christie Burke) is giving birth. As she struggles, her husband (Jesse Moss) coaches her. The first child makes it out fine. The next, is sadly, a tragic stillbirth. The couple retreats home and takes on the role of parenting. Yet every time Mary lay her surviving newborn son to bed each night in his crib, the empty bed on the other side of the nursery reminds her of loss.

“Is she losing her shit or is there really something wrong?”

Moving on. Mary continues to prove herself the best mom possible. While her husband is off at work, she takes her child to the park, making friends with neighbor, and other cool mom (Rebecca Olson). The two chat about motherhood, swinging, and other bits of girl talk. Still, something is wrong. Really wrong in-fact. It soon begins that, in the middle of the night, Mary spies, through the monochromatic baby monitor, a scraggly-haired ghost woman trying to steal her infant. That’s only the first sign of problems.

Fighting accusations of mental instability, Mary continues to defend her child against a paranormal entity. Michael Ironside has a delicious cameo as Mary’s psychiatrist, advising her that postpartum psychosis are common.

Okay, full disclosure here, I was not expecting to LOVE Still/Born. I made the mistake of hearing the plot and thinking that a fresh take on the material was impossible. Then comes along writer-director Brandon Christensen who decides to breathe contemporary life into common horror tropes with honest dialogue and genuine “WTF” scares. I LOVE being fooled.

“…proof that new life can be given to old ideas.”

Still/Born is a genuinely original horror movie that gives a knowing glance to Rosemary’s Baby and Gaslight while offering a disarming mix of humor and scares. Christie Burke is phenomenal as Mary. Her descent from troubled mother into utter insanity is a wild ride and a huge amount of fun. Jesse Moss, as the clueless husband, does the job recalling an almost Jerry McConnell flavor.

Still, credit goes to Christensen who, for the most part, engages and disarms the audience with humor, empathy, and scares. We connect with Mary all the while doubting her credibility. Is she losing her shit or is there really something wrong? We don’t know. We never know until the last frame. Still/Born is proof that new life can be given to old ideas. The trick is to play with audience expectations.

Still/Born (2017) Directed by Brandon Christensen. Written by Brandon Christensen. Starring Christie Burke, Jesse Moss, Rebecca Olson

Still/Born is Matinee (***).

Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)

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