01/08/2019 07:39

Film: Still/Born

Year: 2017

Director: Brandon Christensen

Writer: Brandon Christensen and Colin Minihan

Starring: Christie Burke, Jesse Moss and Rebecca Olson



This film was yet another I heard about on podcasts and added to films I needed to see. I was able to as part of my 2018 round-up during December. The official synopsis is Mary (Christie Burke), a new mother, gives birth to twins, but only one of them is alive. While taking care of her living child, Adam (Grace Christensen), she suspects that something, a supernatural entity, has chosen him and wills top at nothing to take him from her.

As the synopsis states, we start the film with Mary giving birth. Her husband, Jack (Jesse Moss), is there with her. It does well at establishing that one of the babies doesn’t make it without telling us. When the couple comes home, we see that the room was set up for both babies and Mary is struggling to cope with it. There are other things though as well, like the fact that Adam is struggling with breastfeeding and she isn’t sleeping. To complicate this, Jack returns to work so she is the only one getting up with the baby. They’ve just moved into a new house so she is all alone there most of the day.

Mary does take Adam out for walks where she meets her neighbor, Rachel (Rebecca Olson). She is your typical trophy wife and she reveals something that is quite odd about her and her husband as well.

Very quickly, Mary starts to hear things. It is over the baby monitor where she thinks she is hearing two babies. She convinces Jack that they need to get a new one. He comes home with one that shows a video. Mary then thinks that she sees someone trying to take her baby out of the crib. She goes over to Rachel’s where she sees the same image again, making her think that their monitor signals are getting crossed.

Jack notices a mark on Adam’s leg and he has a business trip coming up that he can’t miss. He installs cameras in the home that will allow him to monitor things. This upsets Mary, as she feels he doesn’t trust her. They also go see a doctor, who believes that Mary suffering from post-partum depression as well. While Jack’s gone, the windows of the nursery blow in. Mary thinks she sees an image on the footage and that there’s an entity after her baby. She researches and finds the story of another woman who claims a demon stole her baby.

The real question becomes is any of this real or is this all in her head?

So the first that really struck me about this film is that we get that duality of trying to figure out if this is supernatural or something that is just in the main character’s head. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a sucker for films like that and it sucked me in. Mary is dealing with something that is very natural in post-partum depression. I know women that deal with this, but hers is worse that she is dealing with the death of one of her babies. The doctor in the film, Dr. Neilson (Michael Ironside), points out the fact that part of her fear is that the other baby will pass away and that she can’t protect it. I found this interesting, because it makes sense. I’ve heard of parents becoming more protective of a child if they’ve had one pass away so it makes sense here as well.

To go even further, she is not sleeping, which I can personally vouch that if you are sleep deprived, you start to lose your mind. For me it was just a day or so and I somewhat freaked out. I couldn’t imagine this going on for weeks, like she is dealing with. There is added on this the feeling of isolation since her husband isn’t there a lot either. I can definitely see how if this is all in her head.

The film though also shows us that it could be supernatural. We see an entity a couple of different times. I have to say that it looks quite creepy to be honest. To make it even more real, Mary listens to a recording that is made by Jane (Jenn Griffin). It sounds like the same voice she’s heard. What I like about this is that the only two people hearing it here both could have been crazy, at least at this time. There isn’t someone reliable here. I think this is a good touch for a film like this. The footage from the house doesn’t show the entity, which makes it seem even more like it is in her head. There is evidence to the contrary though as well.

A problem I had with the film though was with the pacing. It is strange as the film runs 90 minutes or so. That’s a normal running time, but I found myself getting a bit bored during the build-up. It just seems to drag and it almost feels like we are getting the same thing over and over. There was also a moment where I don’t believe that Mary could have gotten from one point to another so quickly, especially from where she is starting as well. Once we get past that point though, it did pick up again and I thought it did well in building the tension. The ending I thought was perfect for this film to be honest as well.

Acting for the film I thought was really good. Burke is such a tragic character in my eyes. I feel horrible for the death of her baby. Where Jack seems to have gotten over it, she can’t. Having a baby has her hormones off-balance, which makes sense. As she descends into madness, we see it reflected in her appearance which was good. She was also good looking, which also helps. Moss is interesting as well. He is the rock of the family and he’s trying to work with her, but he is also wrapped up in his job. He’s trying to provided, but at the detriment of his family. Olson was also attractive and her character inadvertently puts thoughts into Mary’s head. I also wanted to shout out to Ironside. He has a small role, but I like what he brings to any film he’s in. The rest of the cast round out the film for what they needed.

The effects for the film were mostly good. There’s not really a lot and some of them I can give a pass, because we aren’t sure if they are real or just in Mary’s head. There can be a bit of nightmare logic there. The scene with the windows exploding though was CGI and that really didn’t look good. I did think the look of the creature, Lamashtu, did though and was quite creepy. Overall I’d say they were pretty solid.

Score for the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it did do some good things with the baby monitors and recordings. I thought that added a level of creepiness and sense of realism as well. The score itself fit the film for what was needed as well.

Now with that said, I thought this film was pretty solid. It did some things that I really like. The not knowing if this is just in Mary’s head or if there is something that is supernatural happening is an interesting concept, it isn’t something new though. What I like about this film though with a good balance and an interesting reveal at the end. There was a bit of a pacing issue I had with the film and thought the build-up drug on a bit. The acting though, I thought was pretty solid across the board. There were a couple moments of bad CGI, but overall still good. The score didn’t stand out, but I would say that it did good things with recordings and baby monitors. It has its flaws, but I still enjoyed it and think it is a good movie. If you like films where it could be supernatural or descending into madness, I’d give this a viewing.


My Rating: 8 out of 10