Cometh the hour, cometh the electro-kinesis powered girl; Reborn is a neat little horror film that could easily have been lost in the shuffle back in the old normal; the paucity of new releases in March 2020 might well help gain a well-deserved audience. Horror is, of course, the most dependable of genres, and Reborn should please genre fans; it’s got a number of USP’s that make it something of a pleasure to review in that it hits most of it’s targets in a satisfying way.
Let’s start with these credentials; appearing in great genre films gives you a potential life-time income of fan appearances and re-discoveries. Barbara Crampton, star of the late Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond and Re-Animator, is something of an iconic figure. As is Michael Paré of The Philadelphia Experiment, Eddie and the Cruisers and of course, Walter Hill’s hugely underrated Streets of Fire. Time has been good to them both; he’s the cop trying to track down a mysterious killer, she’s an aging actress who may be entertaining the killer at her Hollywood acting classes. Tess Stern, well played by Kayleigh Gilbert, is the girl in question, and of course, we already know that she’s got the powers. Dory Rider (played by Commando and Quest for Fire star Rae Dawn Chong) is already on her case, but she comes to a sticky end, as do most of the cast. Reborn riffs on Firestarter and Carrie to be sure, but there’s also elements of The Omen in the way that Richards’ whips up a good old-school stunt death; the car-park scene is one of at least six jump-scares that do the business here.
The familiar names may help draw a crowd, but Reborn is a engaging horror that has a real nous about it; for Tess to be seeking her birth mother by sneaking into her open-house acting workshops is an insider route that exposes the fakery of LA nicely; the late Larry Cohen might have approved of such satirical touches. The climax maybe doesn’t quite match the wind-up, and there’s a few over-reaches, but Reborn is something of an oasis of retro-horror in a sea of banality. And for this critic, seeing Paré in particular is worth a rental fee; the hair, the face, the presence are all still there, and it’s great to see this seminal figure reborn again in Julian Richards’ enjoyable little B movie.