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Martha, a widow living in rural Pennsylvania, comes home to find her daughter about to blow her own head off with a shotgun in the basement of their house. Martha doesn't succeed in stopping her child's horrific demise, but the girl's death gradually leads the grieving mother to investigate a conspiracy that involves a legendary local witch, Nazi dabbling with the occult, and secret government experiments, with the story even referencing the fabled Philadelphia Experiment. Written by
An excellent and intriguing concept, detailed and appropriate production design, and very talented acting (except for the store owner, Richard Ziman, whose overacting was practically unbearable) are all marred by dreadful editing and cinematography, writing more terrifying than the story and direction bad enough to make you cry.
Additionally, the depiction of a family who has just lost a daughter to suicide was offensively inaccurate. Granted, not every family's experience is the same. But there is a mourning period - a time of grief. Not once did they seem to wonder why she killed herself without thinking that she must have been forced into it. Not once did they consider that it was some sort of psychological dysfunction or emotional trauma that caused her to commit suicide... and come on, why did they say "suicide" about a billion times?! Do you really think that they would so quickly accept and deal with what she did and be able to call it "suicide" so casually? Many families can barely even utter the word so recently after the death of a love one.
I initially found this movie because of Nicholas Brendon (yeah, Buffy fan, right here), and I wasn't disappointed by his performance in this movie. He was convincing at most moments, and the moments where he wasn't can be attributed to bad writing. I don't care if he's a dude, I don't care if he's a stoner, I don't care about any of that. His little sister died. Let the man cry a minute on camera before you dive head first into the mystery-solving.
And lastly - I won't reveal the conclusion of the story, but I will say that it happened far too hastily and that it was poorly directed. It leaves you understanding generally what happened, but with a sense of "wait, they missed something" in addition to saying "that's IT?" As if they tried to come up with an interesting twist to the ending (which a movie of this sort sort of requires) and just... couldn't.
It breaks my heart to see such a fascinating and well thought-out story come to an end like this, but a film is only as good as it's script, and "Unholy"'s script is... well, just that.
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