Select Page


Thursday, April 27, 2023 | Reviews


Starring Judy Reyes, Marin Ireland and Breeda Wool
Written by Laura Moss and Brendan J. O’Brien
Directed by Laura Moss

A long line of Dr. Frankensteins pre-date BIRTH/REBIRTH, with varying results. Some are rife with deep heartache, asking the question “What would you do to keep a loved one alive?” Others are bonkers sensations, firmly rooted in the camp lexicon. Still, others are terrifying spectacles of gore and viscera. Of course, as with any sub-genre, thousands of these films don’t venture too far out of expected conventions. BIRTH/REBIRTH falls somewhere in the latter category. Although it’s not without some charming humor, it never quite achieves its goal of showing two women at opposite ends of a desperate spectrum, which makes for a fairly tepid experience. 

The film follows Rose (Marin Ireland), a stoic and rude doctor who works in pathology and spends her time laser-focused on her scientific discoveries. Through tragic circumstances, she meets a hard-working single mother named Celia (Judy Reyes), and the two become bound by a terrible yet potentially world-altering secret. Rose has figured out how to reanimate the dead. From there, the two spend their time desperate to continue their research but must do so by stealing biological matter from the hospital where they both work. Morals dissolve, and motives are questioned as the two women venture further and further down a ghoulish path. 

Rose and Celia are a medical Odd Couple, stuck under the same roof and cramped in an apartment that is too small for their secret. Though Rose’s sterile demeanor makes way for some chuckle-worthy one-liners, the performances of the two leads are frustratingly flat – perhaps on purpose. Specifically, Celia, who is supposed to be the more emotional and caring of the two, barely blinks as her life turns upside down, and though the argument can be made that her character is in a state of shock, as a viewer, I was left wanting to connect to some emotionality that just isn’t there. Along with this, there are moments in the film that really miss the opportunity to raise tension, most notably that Rose and Celia only ever seem to be mildly perturbed with each other, despite being diametric opposites as people. Even at the highest moments of tension, things resolve far too quickly, and the script never really takes the chance to play with the short and crucial timelines baked into the story, making it even more difficult to connect with. What’s left for the audience to grapple with is how dull experimentation truly is: lots of tests, lots of variables and lots of reacting to unknowns. 

BIRTH/REBIRTH begs for more desperation from its leads, and though the plot ventures into the territory, it lacks an emotional connective tissue to really hammer it home.  It also seems to miss the deep well of potential wrapped up in its opening image: A woman is in a hospital for her troubled pregnancy. When a nurse tells her the baby will be fine, she chillingly responds, “What about me?” In a movie about sacrificing your well-being to keep a corpse alive and so inherently linked with subjects like postpartum and motherhood, “What about me?” as a theme seems disappointingly unexplored. Ultimately, BIRTH/REBIRTH is a decent effort but feels far too safe considering the evocative subject matter.

Rue Morgue Manor
The Rue Morgue Manor is the Toronto headquarters of Rue Morgue magazine and its brand offshoots.