In 1869 author Louisa May Alcott’s horror novel Lost In A Pyramid was published. It is one of the earliest examples of the myth of a cursed mummy entering into pop culture. It is definitely not the last. From the romantic terror of Universal’s masterpiece The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, through Hammer Film’s spooky, gothic entries and of course, the popular Mummy franchise starring Brendan Fraser, films alone have kept that legacy going for near 100 years.
The British-set The Mummy Reborn, is the latest entry to use the bandaged walking undead as an antagonist. Tina (Tiffany-Ellen Robinson) and her autistic brother Max (Victor Toth) recently lost their mother, who left Tina with the mortgage on the house. Tina loves Max, but his tantrums over small things like taking a bath and the restricted work hours she takes to care for him have put a strain on her mental health. Between her significant other Luke (Chris Kaye) and friends, Tina does have a support system but she’s still struggling.
Tina’s woes get worse when she’s informed that she’s being let go from her job. During her last shift there, Tina finds a crate with an amulet sealed on top of it. She conscripts her friends to help steal it so that they can sell it for a sizable sum on the black market. Unbeknownst to everyone, there is a mummy (Will Dodd) in that crate who comes to life once the amulet is removed. The revived corpse imbues the souls of his followers into Tina’s friends Jasmine (Mika Hockman) and Ali (Georgia Wood). Now, the mummy is on a killing spree until he finds the amulet.
“The revived corpse imbues the souls of his followers into friends Jasmine and Ali. Now, the mummy is on a killing spree until he finds the amulet.”
The Mummy Reborn may have all the trappings of a horror movie, but it is not one. Instead, the Dan Allen directed film, from a script co-written by Allen and Scott Jeffrey, filters the somewhat generic story through a prism of outlandish gags and a huge heart. The relationship between Tina and Max is central to the movie working, and it is very well handled. Max is never the butt of any jokes nor do the characters mock or dislike him for his disability. When they do lose their temper, which happens due to relatable circumstances (i.e., Max is the one who unwittingly awakens the mummy), they apologize in short order and ensure that Max knows they care for him. Despite the problems in their lives, these siblings and their friends have formed a makeshift family, and that comes through in a big way.
As previously stated, the film is also a comedy. A buyer for the amulet and crated mummy shows up, and the way they stall him to find the amulet is hilarious. When the mummy captures Ali and Jasmine, he does not kill them. Instead, he possesses them and once that new soul enters their body, they magically change into “traditional Egyptian” garb. When the others at the house see this, they ask what they are wearing and how did they find the time to change? You know, just before the two now evil ladies kill them. It is shockingly funny, and the breaking of the fourth wall is always welcome by me.
“…has all the trappings of a horror movie, but it is not one…[it] filters the somewhat generic story through a prism of outlandish gags and a huge heart.”
Max even gets some of the best lines in the film, with a bit about reading the subtitles on screen working very well despite being cliched. Tina’s frustrations with the constant uphill battle of the mortgage and medical help for Max are believable and make her an empathetic hero; even her decision to steal the mummy makes sense in a pure desperation way. The other characters also get a chance to shine in a scene or two, with Karen’s entry into the mummy action late in the movie proving a lot of fun.
The actors are uniformly great as well. Victor Toth as Max refuses to turn his character into a caricature (versus something like the offensively cartoony I Am Sam), so even when he is losing it over a thing that wouldn’t bother anyone else, he is still relatable and humorous. Tiffany-Ellen Robinson is just as fantastic as Tina. When she’s explaining to Max that while she did not buy the house, but their mom left them with a sizable mortgage, she manages to make it not feel like an exposition dump. Will Dodd plays the Mummy, and he makes for a physically imposing, threatening creature; thus the stakes never wane.
If you go in expecting a horror movie from The Mummy Reborn, you’ll be disappointed. However, the quite humorous family drama in horror window dressing works thanks to the fun cast, well-defined characters, and a pace that never lets up.
The Mummy Reborn (2019) Directed by Dan Allen. Written by Dan Allen, Scott Jeffrey. Starring Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, Victor Toth, Chris Kaye, Will Dodd, Rita Siddiqui, Tara MacGowran, Georgia Wood, Mika Hockman.
7.5 out of 10 Mummies