By Tammy Ruggles
The Unholy is a horror movie that wastes the acting talent of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and other cast members. The plot revolves around a young hearing-impaired woman who can suddenly hear again after an encounter with the Virgin Mary, and what’s more, can miraculously heal others. It catapults her to cult-like popularity. But the ominous question is, is she for real, where does her power come from, and what does it all mean? If you don’t mind reviews that are tough, balanced, and fair, keep reading, because this is one of those reviews. I realize my opinions are just that–opinions, and may differ from yours. I mean nothing personal, and am a huge film fan, with horror being one of my go-to genres.
The acting is good enough. I much prefer Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a more low-key role like this than the over-the-top Negan on The Walking Dead. I think his acting choices in “Dead” were too exaggerated, bordering on cartoonish. Maybe that’s the director’s fault, though, and not Morgan’s, because Morgan is a talented actor. The Unholy was directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, and maybe it’s the director’s choices or approach, or the script itself, but for me, this film struggles with originality and execution of suspense/horror. Is the film trying to be another Exorcist or Ring? A major flaw, at least for me, was spoiling the REASON for the curse in the opening scenes. That should have been kept a mystery and then revealed at the end, because, there were no surprises, no motivation to figure out.
I liked Morgan’s character – a reporter looking into the supposed miracles and supernatural events, and the whole fanfare around Alice’s miraculous healing and supposed abilities. Even the religious aspects were intriguing. At least it’s a little different than mot horror tropes. But the plot was predictable, and seemed to crumble toward the final one-third of the film. I’m not sure what could have prevented it, but I do think it was possibly rushed, or lacked focus. It had a lot of potential, though. I don’t know if this movie will ever be remade in the future, but I hope it is, and I hope more attention is given to the solidity of the story, and to the mystery aspect of it.
Maybe this film will grow on me. I have seen way worse when it comes to horror movies. And, as a horror writer myself, have written some monstrosities of my own. So I realize that the movie’s intentions were good. All the parts were there, but the setup and introduction gave too much away, at least in my opinion. There were a few good jump scares, and it tried to be a good horror movie, but in the end, it fell short for me. I was disappointed to hear that Sony Pictures Entertainment was behind the movie. But I don’t blame them for trying to put something out for audiences to enjoy in our troubled times.