August 18th, 2023
STARRING: MARIN IRELAND, JUDY REYES, BREEDA WOOL, A.J. LISTER
DIRECTED BY: LAURA MOSS
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
For a long time, I have had a fascination with Frankenstein, the various versions, the deeply rooted themes about life and death, and how it continues to make an impact in cinema. It mostly stems from my love of Alien, Prometheus, and Alien: Covenant but the more I dig into the deeply rooted conversations around Marry Shelley’s undead masterpiece, the more interpretations I want to see. That brings me to Laura Moss’ new film Birth/Rebirth. It is a new vision of Frankenstein and an approach to the story that probably should have happened long ago, but now that it’s here, what we get is one of the best movies of 2023. Birth/Rebirth is about the depths a mother would go for their child and a fantastic new installment into the history of Frankenstein-inspired movies.
The lead character is Rose (played spectacularly by Marin Ireland), an employee in the hospital morgue, fascinated by the science of bringing a human back to life. Celie (Judy Reyes) is a nurse in the labor/delivery room and a single mother to daughter Lila (A.J. Lister). The two characters have nothing to do with one another, although they work in the same hospital, but they rarely cross paths. Rose likes to go home with work equipment and performs revival experiments on animals. As for Celie, she would do anything for her daughter and put in all her effort to give her a better life. When Lila becomes sick with bacterial meningitis, things take a turn for the worse, and the horrific tragedy of her child dying becomes her reality. When she goes to the morgue to claim the body, it is to her surprise that the child has gone missing, and the last person taking care of her was Rose. Where is the body? It couldn’t have just walked away.
The second act of Birth/Rebirth is where the tension rises, as the process of experimentation takes the front seat, and the choices made of bringing a human back to life become the central conflict. The direction from Moss is not about electricity or a doctor’s descent into madness- don’t expect a moment like “It’s alive!”. This is about being a mother and fighting against the pain of losing someone. Although the character of Rose is the one pushing the boundaries, her purpose becomes to be a mother in her own way, not through the way Celie is. The other side of the coin is that Celie must cope with loss or must answer the question, would you bring your child back from the dead, even if it meant one more moment together?
Where the high rating for Birth/Rebirth comes from is in the direction by Moss. This is a unique feminist tale, co-written by Moss and Brendan J. O’Brien, but bursting with Mary Shelley style. A true inspection of the human condition and a breakthrough work for a first-time feature. Moss is mixing the body part inspection of a David Cronenberg work with the expert storytelling of the James Whale classic. Moss submerges us into this reality and it uniquely becomes their own style. Birth/Rebirth is ultimately closer to something new instead of anything historically done by Boris Karloff. It’s inspired by Frankenstein and is still a take we’ve never seen before.
At times Birth/Rebirth is almost too real. An independent worker that isn’t afraid to go places. It’s heart-wrenching to think about someone losing a child but Moss isn’t going to sugarcoat it. They are talking about the sacrifices made to become a mother. They are talking about the choices an adult makes for the sake of others. Birth/Rebirth is about putting yourself second but it comes at a cost. A loss of self-identity, a loss of freedom for the sake of others, and exactly how one would handle a child brought back from the dead. Birth/Rebirth will only get better with multiple viewings. It has the heart of a child and the mind for great madness. It’s easily one of the best horror movies of 2023.
BIRTH/REBIRTH IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON SHUDDER FRIDAY AUGUST 18TH, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady