Horror movies, these days, are about as scary as an angry midget pulling down his trousers and yelling, ““Say hello to my little friend!”
To scare up spook-points, however, they focus on shock value instead of the good ole jump scares you get when you hear a high pitched scream suddenly and shockingly filling an otherwise empty room.
Or when you realize Freddy Krueger is really the Grinch Who Stole Christmas by showing up as Santa Claws!
“The Unholy” largely sticks to this formulaic attempt to make you shit your pants in fear, even as its off-center camera angles and tonal palette deliver an earthy twist to this genre’s visual texture.
Its religious plot begins in the past, 1845 to be exact, when a woman is accused of witchcraft and is burnt at the stake.
Then, like Superman’s General Zod trapped in the Phantom Zone, her spirit is bound in the body of a doll.
Then, again like Zod breaking out of the Phantom Zone, it escapes its Barbie-like captivity to haunt the rural town of Banfield, Massachusetts, by inhabiting the body of a deaf-mute girl called Alice (Cricket Brown).
I wish Zod had done the same to Lois Lane, thereby giving a high heeled dimension to Kryptonite.
Disgraced, and mostly disgraceful, journalist Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), investigating “cattle mutilation” in this small Massachusetts town, finds himself probing the impersonal real estate of a cow’s ass.
The poor cow has a Metallica logo imprinted on its behind, probably to underscore how much ‘bull’ Fenn’s life has become.
Then, as luck would have it, he encounters Alice.
She personifies the story that will catapult him to the next big headline with a narrative so compelling, it might change the world.
I wrote that last line with a devilish grin, of course.
You see, Alice sees the Virgin Mary. No, not as a lesbian lover: as a spirit medium.
When the Virgin Mary uses Alice to start performing miracles like the one in which she heals a crippled kid called Toby Walsh (Sonny Corbo, who looks eerily like a teenage Damien Thorne of “The Omen”), the world sits up and takes notice.
Suddenly Alice and her uncle, a local Catholic priest called Father Hagen (William Sadler), along with Fenn, become the focal points of a popcorn-happy, watching world.
Through “The Lady” (as Alice calls the Virgin Mary), she becomes a sensation.
Not like that burning sensation in your crotch which you had better consult your doctor about, but one that comes with YouTube hits.
As the Blessed Mary heals the world, however, she also goes after the doubters as Alice declares: “Doubt weakens faith. Doubt leads to damnation.”
Ruh-Roh, as Scooby Doo would ominously say.
With their seal of approval, post-investigation, Alice becomes a household name (like that burning sensation in your crotch) and an inspirational to every girl who dreams of their selfie going viral (without the STD, naturally).
One such fan says, “If Alice can do it, I can. Alice didn’t “fit in” either, and now she’s a saint! There’s hope for me too!”
Aww, doesn’t that just warm the cockles of your heart?
Of course this whole house of cards comes crashing down like Kevin Spacey being cc’d in a memo whose “cc” spells “cancel culture”.
Or “Clear Copy” since this should be a straight-to-DVD-movie, as it colors within the lines by drawing the line between good-versus-evil when a little subtlety is always more frightening.
That said, Alice will seduce you with an uncontrived air of injured innocence. For her beauty lies in the eye of the storm, and everyone is attracted to a damsel in distress.
Well, as long as her name is not Rebecca Kadaga.
Sure, this movie is sometimes scary. But so is my electricity bill.
So maybe Hollywood should cast my bill in a shockyoumentary about how I use it to wipe my ass in order to give my buttocks the high billing this movie falls short of.