When I first heard about "Unholy" last year, I was looking forward to checking it out. I'm always happy to see underappreciated B-actors like Adrienne Barbeau ("Creepshow" and "Carnivale") and Nicholas Brendon ("Buffy The Vampire Slayer") get a role. Sadly, the actors couldn't save the film as "Unholy" turned out to be an unholy mess.
The ambitious, but sloppy story concerns a mother named Martha (played by Adrienne Barbeau-bot) and her son Lucas (Nicholas Brendon) investigating the suicide of their daughter/sister Hope. As the story progresses, we begin to discover things aren't as they appear as countless subplots about Nazis, a Necromancer, a neighbor with a witch wife, time travel (among others) begin to surface. Don't worry, if this doesn't make any sense to you, you are not alone.
The back of the box contains the following quote: "One of the most controversial releases in years...This is the film THEY don't want you to see." First of all, this quote is false advertising. There has been zero controversy over this movie mainly because it's an incomprehensible direct-to-dvd release that only played at a few film festivals. Had the film been a mainstream release and the story been remotely legible, maybe a small group of people would be complaining how the film is blasphemous with the whole Nazi power angle. The second part of the quote, however, is fairly accurate if the word THEY refers to the critics. From the reviews I have read, they really do not want you to see the film, and I have to agree with them. Whenever a story gets lost amongst ideas, the movie cannot succeed. A screenwriter and director's job is to convey the story on screen in a way audiences can understand. Simply assaulting the viewers with images of shotgun suicides, people appearing via time travel, isn't going to go over well with audiences. A stable story structure is an essential element of storytelling, and this film was desperately in need of that.
The only highlight of the film is the stellar cast. Barbeau and Brendon try their very best here, but they can't overcome the weak material. Hopefully, we will see them in better films in the future.
The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) picture is mostly clear, aside from color distortion during brightly lit scenes (or when focusing on bright objects).
The usual 2 audio options (Dolby Surround 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0) are exceptional. The dialogue could be a bit louder, but the music mix is first rate (even though the score is obnoxious and repetitive).
A decent amount of extras have been included.
* A poster and still gallery.
* Trailers for "Unholy," "Hatchet," "Behind The Mask," and three "Masters Of Horror" season two episodes "The Black Cat," "Valerie On The Stairs," and "We All Scream For Ice Cream."
* Audio commentary with director Daryl Goldberg and writer Samuel Stephen Freeman. Viewers should enjoy the commentary as the two give a thorough analysis of the story. I'm glad someone understands what the bleep is going on. Aside from the analysis, both of them seem to be having the time of their lives as they are very appreciative of getting a film made and happy to be working with some of their favorite actors like Nicholas Brendon and Adrienne Barbeau. Note: The audio commentary does contain poor sound quality. It sounds like both of them are talking over a phone.
Unless you want to see a confusing headache inducing horror film, I would recommend that you avoid "Unholy" (even if you are fans of Adrienne Barbeau and Nicholas Brendon).
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.