Birth/Rebirth, directed and co-written by Laura Moss, is a modern take on classic feminist horror that draws lines between motherhood and monstrosity. The film centers around medical pathologist Rose (Marin Ireland), a God-playing doctor who is fixated on bypassing death. Her scientific hubris leads her to perform an untested experiment on deceased six-year-old Lila (A.J. Lister)—imagine Frankenstein’s creature as a small and deceptively unassuming child. As Lila adjusts to her second life with ghastly consequences, the tension rises between Rose and Lila’s mother, the grieving maternity nurse Celie (Judy Reyes), as they’re enmeshed in an overwhelmingly dark situation.
The fraught relationship between Rose and Celie is the heart of the film, with the two characters standing in as foils for
each other in this unsettling atmosphere. Outstanding performances by Ireland and Reyes bring nuance and sympathy to these complex women as the film delves deeper into the genre’s tropes. Visceral, adept, and always pushing the boundaries of moral dilemma, the film asks how close Rose and Celie can get to the line of morality without crossing it.
Birth/Rebirth explores the darker sides of scientific advancement and motherhood in a compelling and thought-provoking way. While the more gruesome plot details can make it difficult to watch at times, the intimate performances and stirring characters make it a standout in the genre. If you’re a fan of horror that challenges the norm and leaves you feeling unsettled, the movie is a must-watch.
Co-written and directed by Laura Moss Out August 18
Top Image: Photo Credit: IFC FILMS