Birth/Rebirth (2023) Film Review from the 27th Annual Fantasia International Film Festival, a movie directed by Laura Moss, written by Brendan J. O’Brien and Laura Moss and starring Marin Ireland, Judy Reyes, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Breeda Wool, LaChanze, Rachel Zeiger-Haag, Erica Sweany, Bryant Carroll, A.J. Lister, Richard Gallagher, Ezra Barnes, Katie Kuang, David Lavine, Asha Etchison, Grant Harrison, Pavel Shatu, Sean Michael Harrison and Mary Ann Hay.
While watching director Laura Moss’s horrifying Birth/Rebirth, it feels like one is in the world of a really wild Stuart Gordon movie, only this one is a bit more deranged. The film opens with doom and gloom and pretty much keeps the graphic elements of the plot in-check all the way through. It’s one of the most downbeat horror movies that have come out lately, but certainly one of the most fascinating with a performance by Marin Ireland in the lead role that will shock audiences and intrigue them, simultaneously. Ireland is more than properly supported by her co-star Judy Reyes. Together, Moss, Ireland and Reyes have made the most twisted movie of 2023.
Ireland plays Dr. Rose, a pathologist who has way too much freedom to do what she wants. She somehow manages to keep a pet pig while unsafely getting to masturbate a man in a bar to obtain sperm for scientific experiments in the interim. Reyes is Celie, a maternity nurse who will unwillingly learn to bond with Rose when Celie’s young daughter, Lila (A.J. Lister)’s life soon hangs in the balance. Lila gets meningitis. Soon, Rose takes Lila on as an experiment in her private work area and all hell is about to break loose very slowly.
Celie is a desperate woman who wants her daughter to live at any cost possible. Rose is just the person to help her as Rose has no real personal commitments that would take her away from her work. Rose is obsessed and becomes a mad scientist, so to say, in this very complicated premise. For Celie, her goal is to keep her daughter’s life intact. Celie will do what she has to in order for Lila to stay alive. Between Celie and Rose, they’ll do just about “anything” and it’s a frightening concept. When Celie begins to “help” a pregnant patient (a fine Breeda Wool), you’re bound to ask yourself “WTF” on more than a few occasions while the movie unravels its horrifying story line.
Marin Ireland commands the audience’s attention as the socially awkward doctor. Ireland’s performance is shockingly believable even if the things she does during the course of the movie defy logic. Reyes is very effective as well, playing a nurse at the end of her ropes. It’s an effective combination of the talents of two fine actresses who play their parts to perfection.
The best scenes in the movie have the character played by Wool eventually seeking treatment for her pregnancy somewhere away from Celie’s facility. Wool’s character pretty much declares that she wants the best medical treatment, not the most convenient. She seems to know something is up with the eccentric Celie even if she doesn’t have any idea, exactly, what’s going on. If she knew, the authorities would arrive in a heartbeat. Instead, Celie somehow manages to get into the Wool character’s home and the results are bound to keep audiences’ eyes glued to the screen.
It wouldn’t be fair to discuss all the things that happen in Birth/Rebirth. They all seem so wild that any big Hollywood production would certainly stay clear of green-lighting a project like this. As a dark, independent movie about trying to keep a child alive, the film works. It’s a horror movie that will be a thought-provoking experience for fans of Stuart Gordon movies. The science in the film may or may not be accurate but it feels authentic nevertheless, suggesting that something like this could happen, even though it hopefully never ever does.
Laura Moss’s new movie is creepy beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s clear that it takes cues from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Gordon’s own Re-Animator, to name a couple of potential inspirations. The biggest success of Moss’s film is the central casting whereas both Ireland and Reyes succeed in creating sympathy for two warped characters who will go down in history as the most bizarre medical professionals ever to be seen in the world of horror movies.
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