Country : USA
Running Time: t/b/a
Distributor: Anchor Bay
A diabolical Nazi occult experiment has frightful ramifications today as a bereaved mother begins to unravel its connections to her daughter's recent suicide....
Directed by Daryl Goldberg. Written by Sam Freeman and Daryl Goldberg. Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Nicholas Brendon, Siri Baruc, Cheyenne Casebier, Merwin Goldsmith, Susan Willis and Joseph McKenna.
The latest (as of this writing) direct to DVD horror flick from Anchor Bay to make its way to your home theater, "Unholy" is not an overwhelming success as a story vehicle. However, if you're looking for spooky stuff, and a lot of it, then you've come to the right place.
Following World War II, a classified U.S. military document recounting the results of a Nazi occult experiment was uncovered and smuggled into an underground facility in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Many years later, a mother (Adrienne Barbeau) is confronted with the grisly reality of her daughter’s suicide. Are these events linked? What seems like a random family tragedy leads to a conspiracy of bizarre crimes, occult carnage and a necromancer who may control a new arsenal of demonic warfare including paranormal powers, time travel and satanic rituals. Just how far will our government go to harness a Nazi legacy that will not die? Has the U.S. Military experimented in the occult? For anyone brave enough to seek the answers, prepare for a mind-blowing journey that will take viewers from unthinkable trauma to unspeakable horror – that is the Unholy.
Adrienne Barbeau, fresh from the cutting room floor of Rob Zombie's "Halloween" is still apparently stuck in more or less the same genre, is the nominal star, though she commands more than half of the screen time. She's a likeable enough persona, but I suspect that she's just playing Adrienne Barbeau here, as she's not given all that much character material to work with. Buffy star Nicholas Brendon phones in a good performance as well.
As a scare vehicle, it's pretty full of freaksome visuals and events. In a field of cinema so generally repetitive and overmined, we should in a sense be grateful for anything new, and we do get a little of that here. And I have to give kudos to any film that manages to bring a new twist to the tired old clichés. The downside is as would be expected, which is that people still have no idea how to end a horror film, and therefore keep falling back on the "It's all over, whew...no wait! It's not over!" gag. This is an area horror film writers seriously need to work on. While it might've surprised someone the first time it was done, it's painfully old hat these days. I can only speculate that the writer/director is setting up for the sequel.
In the final analysis, "Unholy" ain't the hottest thing since sliced bread, since the minimal character work doesn't leave us with an overwhelming desire to revisit the film; once we've seen it, we've pretty much gotten all it has to offer us. Good shocks and cinematography still can't substitute for having an emotional investment in these people and their fates. Still, I'd say it's worth seeing at least once, if you've got two hours to kill with two hours of killing.
The DVD is minimal with its extras, which include:
* Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Producer Daryl Goldberg and Writer/Executive Producer Sam Freeman
* Poster and Still Galleries
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Review by John Gray, for Pitofhorror.com