The Unhealer

12/14/2021 06:38

Film: The Unhealer

Year: 2020

Director: Martin Guigui

Writer: Kevin E. Moore and J. Shawn Harris

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Elijah Nelson and Shelby Janes



This is a movie that I got turned on to thanks to Justin Cook who sent me over a screener. I believe I heard about this movie or I’ve seen a poster for it, but I can’t be completely sure. The only information I knew coming in was that this was a horror movie that featured Lance Henriksen and Natasha Henstridge. The synopsis is a botched faith healing bestows supernatural Shaman powers on a bullied teenager. When his lifelong tormentors pull a prank that kills someone he loves, he uses his powers for revenge and goes on a bloody rampage to settle the score.

Much as the synopsis states, we start this off with a faith healer of Pflueger (Henrisken). He goes to a grave, does a bit of digging and we hear a storm coming. He performs a ritual of sorts that causes him to be hit with a force and he crashes into his van. Whatever happened though, he’s fine and walks away.

We then shift over to our lead of Kelly (Elijah Nelson). He is dealing with pica where he eats paper. This causes him to be called trash boy by a group of bullies. They are made up of Nelson (David Gridley), Reed (Gavin Caslegno), Tony (Will Ropp) and Tucker (Mike Gray). I believe they all play football as well. One of these guys is seeing Dominique (Kayla Carlson). She used to be friends with Kelly, but they’ve grown apart since high school. She is still nice to him. She is quite upset when she sees what this group does to him involving a trashcan. Needless to say, school isn’t easy for Kelly.

Kelly lives with his mother, Bernice (Henstridge). His father isn’t around, but she is doing what she can. His pica is causing him to be malnourished. She calls a doctor and there isn’t much he can do. He does think that Kelly should talk to someone to help his ailment as it feels to be mental. When she goes to the store, she sees Pflueger. He helps a woman with a knee issue and Bernice asks him to help her son. Watching this is Red Elk (Branscombe Richmond). He is the protector of the power and wants Pflueger to give it up. We see that he’s a bit of a snake oil salesmen and not a good guy.

Things all change when he tries to help Kelly. Red Elk did something and when Pflueger goes to heal Kelly, it kills him. Kelly now has the abilities that this false prophet had. Pflueger’s death brings Sheriff Adler (Adam Beach) to the house along with medical personnel.

Now with this power, everything has changed for Kelly. He is completely healthy. He is impervious to being hurt. When he goes to school, he has another run in with Reed. Every time he hits Kelly, it hurts him. Kelly also looks healthy and drawing interest from Dominique. What happened to Reed gets the attention of his father, Gus (Chris Browning), who is the football coach. He knows that Kelly couldn’t do what happened to his son, but wants the truth. Stakes rise as the bullies try to get even. Kelly also draws the attention of Red Elk as this is power no one should have.

That should be enough to recap this movie. Where I’m going to start is that I like the premise we get here. It is interesting that we are using Native American folklore. I’m not sure if this is something that is really in their history or just made up for the movie. I like though that we have a white minister, who is a scumbag, and using it to make money. It is fitting to be honest. How Kelly gets this power works for me. It makes for an interesting idea that this teen is dealing with bullies. The power feels a bit limitless at times while also not fully knowing its own extent. This is slightly problematic for me, but not my major issue here.

This movie is exploring an interesting problem in the world with bullying. While watching this, I thought the teens that are after Kelly are a bit too villainous. What I will say though, when Kelly fights back, they have to go to greater lengths to do some of the things that they do. The prank they pull I can buy, since they thought the trailer would be empty. When people get frustrated, they tend to make bad decisions so I can buy some of what they’re doing. It does feel like they go a bit too far, but I mean we are living in a world where the United States have school shootings regularly or people lynching other humans. I guess what they do here isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

What doesn’t work for me though is the tone of the movie. It feels like it wants to be a super hero movie, but also a horror movie. This can work with things like Brightburn. I just don’t know if the tone goes dark enough for what they needed. It plays out too much a teen melodrama to me. Dominique gets mad at Kelly for some weird things. There are times where it isn’t his fault, but she blames him. What sends him into a rage to get his revenge; I would be right there with him. For whatever reason, the movie just comes off as corny and doesn’t work on the level they’re shooting for in my opinion.

That should be enough for my thoughts on the story, so I’ll take this to the acting. It was fun to see a cameo from Henriksen. He pulls his jerk, ‘snake oil salesmen’ guy so well. I just hate him and also love that he seems to be enjoying this role. Nelson is fine as our lead. His acting isn’t great, but I can buy his motivations. I thought that Carlson was cute and her role as that friend Kelly needs. Her friend of Sarah, played by Angeline Appel, was also attractive. Gridley, Casalegno, Ropp and Gray are all fine as our group of bullies. Make makes it work is them being protected by Browning. I thought that Henstridge, Richmond and Beach are all fine as well with the rest of the cast rounding this out for what was needed.

Then the last things to go into would be the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, they actually go light with effects. I think some of this is that they hide what is happening with the cinematography. I’ll give credit to that. There was a bit of practical effects that were fine and some CGI that didn’t work for me. So I’d say it is hit or miss. This movie has a lot during the day so having it is in the light makes it interesting. It doesn’t work necessarily in favor though as it isn’t menacing unfortunately. Other than, the soundtrack was fine for the movie without necessarily standing out as well.

So then in conclusion here, this movie has an interesting idea, but the movie doesn’t do great in fully realizing it unfortunately. I like the idea of this faith healer, who takes a Native American power to make money. How it gets to our lead worked for me. What ends up happening with him is interesting, but also an idea we’ve seen before. The acting I thought was fine. The effects were hit or miss. I will give credit to the cinematography, but having a lot of this in the day alleviates dread as well. The soundtrack was also fine. I would have to say that this movie is in the middle for me. There are good things about it and things that just didn’t work for me as well.


My Rating: 5 out of 10


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