Reviewed by: Donny Broussard
What's it about
A grieving mother investigates her daughter’s suicide and finds herself caught in a web of terror involving Nazis, the occult, conspiracy theories, and mad science.
Is it good movie?
“Unholy” is a weird film, and I’m not saying that it’s weird in a bad way, just that it takes an odd premise and shapes it into a mind numbing storyline that begs for repeat viewings. It’s the kind of film that introduces interesting plot devices, but never lets you in on its secrets. Director Daryl Goldberg was very brave when he decided to make his first feature such a difficult film to follow, and I commend him for the decisions he made because they made a lasting impression.
Horror scream queen Adrienne Barbeau plays Martha, a mother who witnesses her daughter’s suicide by shotgun who before blasting off her pretty face utters the words “beware the experiment.” After this traumatic event Martha calls her son Lucas, played by a slightly chubby Nicholas Brendon to come and take her away for a while. Only not long after they pull out of the driveway Martha talks Lucas into going back to the house to try and figure out why his sister Hope (Siri Baruc) decided to repaint the basement with her brains. After returning home they discover a tape recorder with an audio diary that Hope left behind, a bunch of creepy paintings of a scary Nazi, a record player that plays some spooky music, and a chair with straps on it that kind of looks like the famous chair from “Hostel.”
Soon Martha and Lucas find out that most of the small town seem to be in on a secret government experiment involving the unholy trinity, which consist of time travel, invisibility, and mind control (I always thought they were me, myself, and I). Now if that isn’t mind numbing enough for you then throw in the fact that the subjects of these experiments might not necessarily know they are being experimented on until it’s to late.
There are some continuity problems in this film, but knowing that it was done on a shoestring budget makes most of them forgivable. Actually lots of the continuity issues add to the dizzying atmosphere that runs throughout its 86 minute runtime. The acting was top notch, the cinematography looked professional, and the score was chilling.
I think Goldberg is a director to watch. I’m curious to see if he continues to play by his own rules, but after watching “Unholy” I’d like to think he’s headed in a positive direction. I walked away from this film feeling like I might need to watch it again to fully grasp what I had just seen and in my book that is not always a bad thing. It’s not often a low budget horror film takes the kind of chances that this film did, so if you’re a fan of smart horror with a solid cast I would definitely recommend picking this one up.
Video / Audio
Video: The video looked fantastic.
Audio: The sound wasn’t the greatest but was very adequate and clear.
There is an Audio commentary track with the director and producer that is OK.
A still Gallery and trailers are also on this disc, but other than that it's pretty bare bones.
“Unholy” was a smart and challenging film that kept you guessing even after the credits rolled. It was a well cast, interesting, and competently made film that respects genre conventions but is not afraid to break them.