Shudder exclusive STILL/BORN is a well-crafted psychological horror film about a young mother who’s either suffering from postpartum depression or dealing with a demon’s designs on her newborn son.
Directed by Brandon Christensen, STILL/BORN opens with the heartbreaking hospital scene of a mother named Mary losing one of her twins in childbirth.
The next scene shows Mary rocking her surviving son Adam to sleep, framed by two empty cribs. It’s a flawless shot representing the emotional state of the mother while signaling that STILL/BORN is in the hands of a capable director and storyteller.
STILL/BORN also benefits from a powerhouse performance by Christie Burke, who plays Mary with the conviction and vulnerability of a devoted mother haunted by the loss of one baby and overwhelmed by the fear of losing the other.
Mary’s supportive husband Jack (played by Jesse Moss) is a lawyer who works long hours, leaving the depressed Mary at home alone to care for Adam. But someone has to pay the hefty mortgage.
Christensen shows the isolation of motherhood while the father is at work. Soon, Mary starts hearing and seeing creepy sounds and images on the baby monitors. Doors slam, lights flicker, and windows shatter for no reason.
The sparse soundtrack and lighting create an atmosphere of dread throughout the 87-minute runtime. The jump scares are timely and don’t feel contrived.
The central question hangs like a shroud over the film: Is Mary losing her mind or is she really hearing and seeing a supernatural entity stalk her baby? Mary instinctively knows her baby’s in danger, but everyone else thinks Mary’s the danger.
Directed with Hitchcockian tension and suspense, STILL/BORN is emotional, paranoid, spooky, and tragic.
While the plot is not the most original concept, a bold but perfect final scene (at least to me) may leave you feeling like Mary in the end.
Check out the YouTube trailer here.
RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ (out of 4)
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