Still/Born is a Canadian film directed by Brandon Christensen (It Stains The Sand Red 2016), and it tells the tale of man named Jack (Canadian Jesse Moss: Dear Mr. Gacy 2010) and his wife, Mary (Christie Burke: Black Fly, Falling Skies), who have just had a baby. The only soul-crushing part is that they were supposed to have twins but one of them was still born. Unfortunately, that isn’t their only problem.
The couple have just moved into a new luxury home in a posh neighborhood. Jack has been working like a dog to keep their lifestyle going smoothly. Mary has been at home taking care of the new baby and is obviously lonely in the new and strange neighborhood. It seems she could also be suffering from postpartum depression. Mary befriends a neighbor, Rachel (Rebecca Olson), who also happens to have a newborn. The two share some uncanny new mother moments.
Things begin to go sour when Jack has to leave home for a business trip. Mary starts hearing and seeing creepy, bizarre things on her state of the art baby monitor. It’s hard to tell if the things Mary sees are real or if they’re just figments of her imagination. Nevertheless, Still/Born does an effective job in toying with the viewer’s mind, and that is one of the main things I enjoyed about it. It had me constantly thinking whether or not Mary was crazy herself and if she had slumped into a deep state of depression and hallucinating anxiety.
The intro to the movie is spot on with the happy and excited couple watching the birth of their babies, an emotional and mentally draining experience, which becomes all the more trying when one of the babies doesn’t make it. The looks on the couple’s faces speak louder than any words, portraying a message which was well conveyed here.
In one scene, they were trying to lead the viewer to believe that Mary was nuts, especially when Jack returns from his business trip and finds Mary all dressed up with over-styled hair and acting like a Stepford Wife while cursing her baby. Still/Born does a great job of jumping back and forth with his concept. Is Mary’s condition causing her to do crazy things or is there legitimately something smoldering underneath it all? I did love the scene where Mary is bathing her baby and a very intense, traumatizing event occurs. This part is probably one of the most harrowing and memorable moments in the film.
On the downside, Still/Born definitely lacks in original material.We get some of the creepy woman stuff here with the frail, long-haired figure moving in a jerky fashion and screaming. There are some jump scares, of course. Some definitely work better than others, including the common red herring scares movies in this fashion possess. Still/Born even takes a bit from each of the “modern creepy haunted house” and the “possessed individual” horror categories. Still/Born also goes off into bizarre subplots that sometimes went nowhere.
Overall, Still/Born is an entertaining tale with good performances from its cast and a generally engaging execution of suspenseful, effective storytelling. It was cool to see Canadian acting vets Michael Ironside and Sheila McCarthy playing supporting roles as well. As a parent, I believe it also offers a realistic portrayal of a new mother, including some valid frustrations mothers of newborns face. My main concern is that Still/Born could possibly get lost in the crowd because it doesn’t differentiate or distinguish itself enough from the pack.
Check it out and let us know what you think!