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Reborn (Movie Review)

Reborn (Movie Review)
7 10

Reborn Julian Richards Barbara Crampton

PLOT: A young girl resurrected by a bolt of lightning reconnects with her long-lost mother and wreaks havoc with electrokinetic abilities.

REVIEW: What if FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD's mousy heroine Tina had been the character in that movie who was saved from the grave by a bolt of lightning rather than slasher Jason Voorhees (who was given the Frankenstein's Monster treatment in the previous film, JASON LIVES)? The character might have turned out something like electrokinetic teenager Tess in director Julian Richards' film REBORN.

Scripted by Michael Mahin, REBORN begins with a morgue attendant named Kenny acting strange around the corpses, and Sonny and Cher's son Chaz Bono does a very effective job of making Kenny come off as a slimy creep. When the hospital is hit by a lightning strike, an electrical surge revives one of the corpses, that of a stillborn baby. So Kenny decides to take the living dead infant named Tess home to mother so she can be raised as his little sister. On her sixteenth birthday, Tess breaks free of the metal bracelet that has been holding back her power to control electricity, then uses that power to break free of Kenny.

Meanwhile, after being plagued by nightmares for sixteen years, Tess's biological mother, actress Lena O'Neil, has coincidentally started trying to find out what the hospital did with the body of her baby. She is deeply disturbed to find that the body went missing, and doesn't realize that the young girl who has started attending her acting classes is actually her long-lost daughter...

Wrapping up in under 78 minutes (and that includes roughly 6 minutes of credits), REBORN moves along like a rocket, propelled forward by sequences in which Tess uses her electrokinetic abilities to kill anyone she feels wronged, threatened, or even annoyed by. As you can imagine, the power to manipulate electrical objects proves to be quite handy for a person on a killing spree. 

Reborn Julian Richards Kayleigh Gilbert

Like the seventh FRIDAY THE 13TH, REBORN owes a lot to the Stephen King story CARRIE, but you won't be doing your viewing experience any favors to keep CARRIE in mind while watching this electric boogaloo. Although there is a solid attempt at stirring up emotion with the drama between Lena and Tess, the pain they both feel over past events and how their lives have gone, the movie comes up a little short in the substance department. It could have benefited from taking more time to really dig into the subject matter instead of getting the viewer in and out so quickly. But the filmmakers even go so far as to directly copy the ending of CARRIE at the end of their movie, so maybe they weren't taking it all that seriously.

The death scenes are fun to see, and the film is also worth checking out for the cast, like the aforementioned Bono. This serves as a strong introduction to Kayleigh Gilbert, who did a terrific job in the role of Tess, her performance complimented by the fact that she has a great look for the part, especially when her hair gets wild. This is only Gilbert's second feature, and I hope she's going to be doing a lot more work in the horror genre. Her most prominent co-stars are a trio of actors you've probably been a fan of since the 1980s (if you were around back then): Lena O'Neil is played by RE-ANIMATOR's Barbara Crampton, no stranger to dealing with scary things that come out of the morgue; the LAPD cop investigating the unusual deaths caused by Tess is Michael Paré, star of EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS and STREETS OF FIRE (not to mention John "The Arrow" Fallon's THE SHELTER); and COMMANDO's Rae Dawn Chong plays Lena's agent, who Tess isn't very fond of. I really enjoyed seeing these actors deal with the situation REBORN drops them into.

Although I ended up feeling like the movie could have been more than it is, I had a good time watching it. It delivers a quick dose of entertainment, and that's all it really needed to do.
 

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