Is there any other genre that produces as many forgettable, cash grabbing films as horror? Horror has always been a reliable, safe genre for studios; cheap to make with good profits, even with bad reviews. The people simply love to be scared. Written and directed by Evan Spiliotopoulos, The Unholy seems exactly the type of disposable entertainment that you consume and then discard like yesterday’s paper. There is nothing wrong with a film being a little dumb, a little forgettable, as long as it’s entertaining. The Unholy, however, is not.
The Unholy focuses on Gerry (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a disgraced journalist who after fabricating stories, now reports on hoaxes and after a dead end story, he comes across a creepy doll, which he, rather stupidly, crushes, involuntarily releasing a spirit that may or may not be Virgin Mary herself and now possesses a young girl called Alice. Alice begins performing miracles left and right, but Gerry believes Alice might be possessed by something much more satanic than originally presumed.
The film’s biggest flaw is that it’s just not that scary. Religious horror has the ability to question our beliefs and profoundly unsettle us, whether we believe in a higher power of sorts or not. The Unholy seems to strongly adopt a Christian viewpoint and this is where it goes so wrong. It will straight away alienate non-religious and non-Christian viewers and lacks the ability to objectively explore or criticise the very religion and the characters’ devotion it portrays. Compared to films such as The Exorcist and Saint Maud, The Unholy falls short on all fronts.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is always a welcome presence in any film, but even he seems to be on autopilot here. Most of the cast seem bored and their performances are uninspired. All characters are underdeveloped and badly written; the script is full of needless exposition and clunky dialogue, making The Unholy a cliched exercise in horror.
The central mystery of the film is too simple and Spiliotopoulos can’t sustain tension or create consistent enough scares to keep us entertained, never mind scared. The CGI is shockingly poor; if it was better, The Unholy might be a decent, entertaining shocker but there are simply too many missing elements to make this at least passable. It’s a failed attempt at creating a classically scary religious horror film.
The Unholy is available to Download & Keep, Rent on Digital and on Blu-Ray™ & DVD on August 2