The Unholy (2021) Review

Certificate: 15

Director: Evan Spiliotopoulos

Screenwriter: Evan Spiliotopoulos, James Herbert (based upon the book by)

Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Cricket Brown, William Sadler

Genre: Horror

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Language: English

Rating: 2.5

Reviewed by: Pearl

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A hearing-impaired girl is visited by the Virgin Mary and can suddenly hear, speak, and heal the sick. As people flock to witness her miracles, terrifying events unfold. Are they the work of the Virgin Mary or something much more sinister? – From IMDB

There seems to be an uncharacteristically large amount of horror films releasing for the reopening of UK cinemas. For my second outing of the day I saw The Unholy, a film I literally knew nothing about apart from the very short synopsis I read on IMDB before jumping in the car. I think going into this knowing nothing about it was the right way to go. Had I known anything more about it’s religious affiliations, or any of the major plot points I would have gone in with far too many assumptions and expectations. I think my blank slate helped me to enjoy this more than I maybe would have.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Gerry Fenn, an unscrupulous journalist who is down on his luck an looking to make an easy buck off of the apparent miracles that are occurring in a small rural town in Massachusetts. He is an interesting character, and although we learn little about him, the way he is treated by those around him give us enough of an idea what his reputation is. He goes on an interesting personal journey throughout the film, and though the ending may be a little (or a lot) heavy handed, he does come out of it a better person. JDM is a great actor, so I was never worried about his performance, and he delivers another winner for me here. Cary Elwes plays an equally unscrupulous Bishop and his performance was less inspiring to me. The character was very generic and flat and to top it off, the accent that Elwes was putting on was confused and inconsistent.

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The actual story itself was also pretty generic. You know pretty much from the get go what’s going on, and you don’t need the hastily read journal entries heading into the third act to spell it out for you. The film relies mostly on jump scares to get it’s audiences blood pumping and while they did make me jump a few times at the beginning, it is always the same scare over and over again, and after a while you see it coming a mile away and it loses it’s effectiveness.

I did like that this story turned the usual role of religion in horror movies on it’s head. Usually it is the good, god fearing Christians and the Vatican appointed priests that come in and save the day. This time round, it is that same belief that is the root of the problem, an interesting direction to go in, and one that stopped this film from being a completely predictable affair from beginning to end.

For horror fans, ‘The Unholy’ is out in UK cinemas now.

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