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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Birth/Rebirth

Title: Birth/Rebirth

Describe This Movie In One Jurassic Park Quote:
DR. IAN MALCOLM: I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Kid Sematary

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3.5 basters out of 5.
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Tagline: N/A

Better Tagline: "This isn't the kind of STEM I was thinking of."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: You couldn't find two more different personalities than Rose (Marin Ireland), a pathologist who's almost as cold as the corpses she works on, and Celie (Judy Reyes), an OB nurse just trying to get by with her young daughter Lila (A.J. Lister). But when tragedy strikes, the two form an unlikely bond that finds them going down increasingly disturbing paths in defiance of both science and human decency.
"Critical" Analysis: Giving birth, as I understand it, can be both a beautiful representation of life's rich pageant and a singularly painful and traumatizing event. We get plenty of the latter right at the beginning of Laura Moss's Birth/Rebirth, which sets its tone fright off the bat, depicting an emergency C-section from the prospective of the stricken mother.

The woman dies, and Rose gets the case, and subtle hints that something might be a bit off become more blatant when she ends up at a bar and jerks a guy off in the bathroom to collect his semen. Which she subsequently uses to impregnate herself. Yeah.

Celie, on the other hand, is being run ragged by the demands of her job (and you aren't going nuts, that's Judy Reyes from Scrubs playing a decidedly less light-hearted health care worker) and being a single mother, often forced to ask her sister to watch Lila while she goes to work. In what is possibly the pinnacle of good news/bad news developments, her mom duties drop to nothing when Lila sickens and suddenly dies of meningitis.

In addition to telling an effective story, the goal of any true horror movie should be to go — in the words of Colonel Nathan Jessup — places you don't talk about at parties. Birth/Rebirth definitely does that. And as is the case of movies of this ilk from Awakenings to Jurassic Park, Moss plots course through Birth/Rebirth with the building feeling that things are not going to end well.

Even though the pair come to what we'll call their "arrangement" for different reasons, their contradictory personalities end up meshing in a kind of perverse symbiosis. The detached and calculating Rose thaws somewhat as she comes to understand the  burdens of parenting, while Celie finds herself becoming more motivated abd purpose-driven.

But it's the purpose itself that's the problem. Moss and co-writer Brendan J. O'Brien take some interesting off-roads in examining the responsibilities of parenthood and confronts some unpleasant realities about its occasional negative impacts.

They also look at the lengths some might go to continue to be a parent. It's the last part that plunges Birth/Rebirth into true horror. In a parallel dimension, this might have been a buddy comedy about two professional women who have wacky adventures trying to navigate modern life, but with Moss's claustrophobic direction, there's not much chance of that happening.

Birth/Rebirth is now streaming on Shudder.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar