Produced by Sam Raimi hits in THE UNHOLY evil in the form of the Virgin Mary. Despite interesting approaches and some successful looks at sensational media, the film is only convincing in a few moments. The ending is particularly disappointing. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Unholy (USA 2021)
Alice (Cricket Brown) – a young girl with hearing loss – is inexplicably able to hear, speak and even heal the sick after the Virgin Mary supposedly appeared to her. As the news spreads and people flock from all over to witness the miracles she wrought, a disgraced journalist (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) visits the small New England town hoping to help his research on Alice To give your career a new boost. As frightening events occur around him, he wonders whether the phenomena are the work of the Virgin Mary or whether there is something diabolical behind them.
The filmmaker Sam Raimi has seemingly become quiet in recent years. The author and director, who is known, among other things, for the “Spider-Man” films with Tobey Maguire and horror films such as “Drag Me to Hell”, has not directed a film since 2013 (“The Fantastic World of Oz”) and screenwriter ( “Evil Dead”) is responsible. However, the Michigan-born filmmaker was not idle either. Since 2013, twelve different film and series projects (including “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” and the horror thriller hit “Don’t Breathe”, which will be continued this year), have been credited to him and are considered preferred As a film producer working in the genre sector, Raimi still has his hands full. So it’s no wonder that a film studio likes to advertise with such a big name. Sam Raimi is also explicitly mentioned in the trailer for “The Unholy” by debutant director Evan Spiliotopoulos. The horror film, which has directorial parallels to films like “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, about a young girl who suddenly has healing powers after the alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary, shows no references to Sam Raimi’s work. As a co-founder of the film production company Ghost House Pictures, he simply has far too little to do with the content of the films for which he primarily spends money and less technical know-how.
What was the young woman doing in an open field at night?
The fact that Evan Spiliotopoulos chose horror material (also written by him) for his first feature film, which he supervised as a director, is surprising when you look at his previous CV. In his early days as a screenwriter, Spiliotopoulos was responsible for many of the second-rate direct-to-DVD projects from the Disney animation company. These include “The Jungle Book 2”, “Tarzan II” and “The Little Mermaid – How It All Began”. Over time, the filmmaker turned to more adult projects, but remained loyal to the Disney company. For example, the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” was also written by him. With “The Unholy,” the filmmaker seems to want to break away from his previous work to such an extent that a horror film scenario largely designed on the drawing board seemed to be enough to achieve his goal. Because this much can be revealed in advance: Despite its interesting story approaches, “The Unholy” simply has far too little independence. It starts with the premise: The fact that a young woman can suddenly speak again due to an apparition of the Virgin Mary and heals the sick and weak sounds like an interesting idea at first. The narrative parallel to “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” suggested at the beginning could be particularly convincing in the sense that an emphatically down-to-earth narrative, including modern media and observing how the world receives such news, reveals potential. But unfortunately the author Evan Spiliotopoulos doesn’t make this scenario more than a classic haunting plot.
“With “The Unholy” the director seems to want to break away from his previous work to such an extent that a horror film scenario largely designed on the drawing board seemed to be enough to achieve his goal. Despite its interesting story approaches, “The Unholy” simply has far too little independence.”
While “The Unholy” ostensibly tells of a dubious proof of God and how the village community deals with it, the main narrative strand is dedicated to that of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (“Rampage – Big Meets Bigger”) played, disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn, who tries to get to the bottom of the events. Unfortunately, his research is not only extremely formulaic (including the horror visions that haunt Fenn at some point, which massively increase the number of jump scares), but they also only differ marginally from various other possession and exorcism films in which a person is also on the search after the solution to save the soul of a person who is usually possessed by an evil force such as a demon. And since the supposed savior Mary soon turns out to be someone (or something) completely different, the idea of not pursuing something evil for once falls flat; In the end, “The Unholy” is all about the stuff that numerous horror films are made of.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays his role of an investigative journalist solidly.
This doesn’t just apply to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance, which solidly but calmly downplays his portrayal of an investigative journalist who tries to fight his way back into visibility by independently choosing a new assignment. The production of “The Unholy” is also made up of tried and tested horror film motifs. The film would be a whole lot better if the predictable jump scares didn’t constantly make the soundtrack soar. For the director, the quick shock clearly takes priority over the subtle construction of a scary atmosphere, so that even really successful scenes such as the no less eerie adoration of the “healer” Alice are few and far between. Fenn’s conversations with clergymen and their almost radical conviction that the events were all ordained by God also give “The Unholy” substance at times, while the clear highlight of the film can be heard right at the beginning, when a witch burning is shown from the first person perspective probably not for nothing reminiscent of the opening of Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” remake. But the problem with the countless jump scares is not just their uninspired execution, but above all the associated inferior computer effects, which even the trailer doesn’t skimp on. Of all things, “evil” is the thing that scares the least in “The Unholy.” It doesn’t help that the cameraman Craig Wrobleski (“The X-Files: The Sinister Cases of the FBI”) makes every effort to give this meaningless film more expression.
“The production of “The Unholy” is made up of tried and tested horror film motifs. The film would be a whole lot better if the predictable jump scares didn’t constantly make the soundtrack soar.”
Conclusion: “The Unholy” makes little use of its interesting idea, approaching a “what if a young woman was unwillingly haunted by the Virgin Mary?” plot in the same way as numerous obsession films before it. At least there are occasional glimpses that debutant director Evan Spiliotopoulos might be able to bring something better to the screen in the future.
“The Unholy” can be seen in USA cinemas from June 17th.