October Horror Movie Challenge, Day 9!
Pianist and GMILF Martha (the lovely and legendary Adrienne Barbeau) has her life turned upside down when her daughter Hope (Siri Baruc) commits suicide in the family cellar, after warning her mother cryptically to "beware the experiment." With her mostly useless stoner son Lucas (Nicholas Brendon) in tow, Martha starts digging into the dark history of their small town, which leads her to menacing encounters with the local creepy recluse Gertrude (Susan Willis, whom I mistook for Cloris Leachman until I read the end credits), the worlds most threatening florist (Richard Ziman), and into the bowels of local folklore involving Lester Krauss (Joseph McKenna), also known as The Necromancer. Much more than just a bedtime boogeyman, Krauss was apparently a Nazi occultist working on the "Unholy Trinity" of parapsychological powers--Invisibility, Mind Control, and Time Travel--under the post-war auspices of a shadowy US Government agency. As the plot unravels, Martha learns that not only was Hope a subject of Krauss's experiments, but so also was the entire town--herself and her son included. Soon she finds herself in a race to find out what really happened to her daughter, and perhaps to save history from the evil machinations of a time-traveling Nazi warlock--the worst kind!
I remember when Unholy was being hyped by certain horror websites and on messageboards back in '07--fans were of course excited to see Barbeau working in anything, and the Nazi occultism plot seemed a can't-miss premise. (If memory serves, I think there was even some kind of abortive Augmented Reality Game launched to build anticipation for the flick.) Then the hype seemed to disappear, and I forgot about the flick until it turned up in the Netflix instant queue.
Well, some things are indeed better left unknown, including the entirety of this terrible, terrible movie. It's hard to tell which is more at fault--the nonsensical script by Sam Freeman or the clunky direction of Daryl Goldberg--but both smell up the joint with alarming consistency. Goldberg substitutes dissonant orchestral stings for suspense, leaves out huge chunks of context, and drops in some of the worst CG I've seen since Barbie: Fairytopia. Barbeau gives it a decent shot (I wonder whether she realized what kind of stinker she had somehow signed on for), but even an actress of her ability is consistently hamstrung by the script's wooden dialogue and intelligence-assaulting contrivances. Ziman is entertaining as the confrontational storekeeper, and for his part McKenna makes a very creepy Nazi doctor, but the rest of the acting is uniformly bad--though again, perhaps we can't blame the actors, given what they had to work with.
Unholy tries to set up a time-twisting mystery thriller, but the only mystery I was interested in solving was how they got Barbeau to agree to be in it in the first place. 0.75 thumbs. Avoid.
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