Canadian horror, thriller STILL/BORN s the tragic tale of Mary (Christine Burke) who gives births to twins, but only one survives...
Canadian horror, thriller STILL/BORN is the tragic tale of Mary (Christine Burke) who gives births to twins, but only one survives - Adam. The joys of being a new parent are subsumed by the understandable trauma and grief. The father, Jack (Jesse Moss) is less emotionally damaged by the experience. He’s a rising star with his employer and having stretched themselves to their financial limits to pay for their home, they need every penny he can earn. Consequently, the pressures of coping with the loss and looking after Adam pile up on the increasingly isolated Mary. As exhaustion and sleep deprivation begin to envelop her, she convinces herself a devil of some sort plans to take Adam. The rational explanation offered to Mary is she’s enduring a form of PTSD. An obvious parallel is Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014), but the horror as a metaphor for a mother’s mental torture from her child isn’t the same with Still/Born. She really is thwarting a vengeful demon child snatcher and by the end Mary is prepared do anything to save her baby.
Brandon Christensen’s feature film debut has a frosty elegance that explodes into a wild and nail-shredding finale. He takes his time to build the dread. A fairly innocent scene of bathing Adam escalates to waking nightmare when Mary is locked out of the bathroom. Screaming Adam lies in a bath filling with water and Christensen’s choice of shots make you as much a helpless witness to the horrifying situation as the character of Mary.
Burke’s portrayal of the descent into madness is wonderfully sad. Her relationship with her supportive neighbour – and new mother - Rachel (Rebecca Olson) doesn’t appear to be as important to the story as the two parents falling apart, but the building up and tearing down of their bond over babies becomes central to the theme and Mary’s demise.
STILL/BORN is a vivid, scary experience that slowly builds like Rosemary's Baby meets Paranormal Activity with the thriller intensity of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle to carry you over the line.