Reborn (2 stars)


Reference-heavy horror film from Julian Richards, featuring a host of genre favourites

Scream queen Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator) stars as a flailing B-movie actress with a tragic past in this meta mash-up from director Julian Richards and screenwriter Michael Mahin. On paper, the notion of Carrie meets Frankenstein by way of Sunset Boulevard sounds like a hoot but, despite some game performances from legendary 80s actors, the film fails to satisfactorily piece together all of its parts.

It begins with an icky opener, where an apparently stillborn baby, Tess, mysteriously awakens in a morgue. Fast-forward to 16 years later, and it is revealed that the creepy mortuary worker (played by Chaz Bono) who was on duty that night kidnapped her. Tess (the striking Kayleigh Gilbert) is now a goth teen, gifted with electrokinesis, and desperate to find her birth mother. Obvious visual references to Hitchcock's Psycho pepper this section of the film, pointing to the mummy issues that fuel Tess on her murderous rampage.

Meanwhile, her oblivious mother, Lena (Crampton), is still suffering from the death of her baby all that time ago; she's now an acting coach, green with envy at a younger actress's success. Lena's agent, Dory (Rae Dawn Chong from Commando), advises her to visit counsellor Dr Hetch (Monte Markham) to deal with her issues and find closure. Streets of Fire actor Michael Paré appears as Detective Marc Fox, slow on the heels of an LA killing spree.

There's fun to be had with surprising cameos, gross practical effects, and the fact that the cast are clearly in on the joke, yet the relentless references start to become a bore. Crampton and Gilbert give it their all and their scenes together have a modicum of emotional resonance. This Frankenstein's monster of a horror film may display genuine affection for the genre but, aside from the occasional giggle-inducing moment, exhibits all the energy of a limp corpse. Still, hardcore horror fans may get a kick or two out of it.

Available to watch on demand from Mon 4 May.