The Unholy’s Intriguing Premise Devolves into a Serviceable Supernatural Horror

A scene from Screen Gems THE UNHOLY.

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A hearing-impaired girl is reportedly visited by the Virgin Mary and can suddenly hear, speak, and heal the sick. As people flock to witness her miracles terrifying events unfold. But is this the work of the Virgin Mary, or something much more sinister?

Review: The Unholy piqued my interest due to its interesting premise. The idea of a false Virgin Mary and people worshipping her due to the “miracles” that she performs has some teeth to it. Unfortunately, what started out as a promising, somewhat unique horror movie, quickly devolves into your standard jump scares, typical story beats, and predictable ending. So let’s see what worked and what didn’t.

I may be stepping out on a limb here, but I don’t think that’s Mary

I like the look of this film. The production value is quite good and the design for “Mary” had the perfect balance of creepy, gothic, and mysterious. She’s strongest when she’s kept in the shadows and there are moments here when she comes across as quite sinister. Think the first time you saw The Nun in The Conjuring Part 2.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is no stranger to the horror genre (The Possession/The Walking Dead) and he’s charming enough to make his role as Gerry, a somewhat morally corrupt reporter who’s hoping to get back on top by covering the story of this “miracle”, enjoyable. The story being that of a young deaf mute named Alice who is miraculously cured and who becomes the voice of “Mary”. Actress Cricket Brown has a natural innocence to her that also makes her believable in the role. Because of this innocence I found myself fully invested in her character, which is always a plus when it comes to horror movies, as the tension builds the more “Mary” manipulated Alice into finding her new worshippers.

Jeffrey instantly regrets leaving ‘Lucille’ at home

Another aspect of this movie I enjoyed was the story. At least I did when it stayed the course and took an intelligent look at the dangers of false prophets. It’s a topic you don’t see often in horror movies, unless the focus of that movie is a cult, and I just wished they had stuck with this more as it would’ve added to the intelligence and intrigue of the story.

Sadly, what starts out intriguing quickly devolves into your typical “angry spirit”-seeking vengeance-against-others trope. Cheap jump scares further erode what could’ve been a solid movie. And by the time the ending started to unfold, I found myself somewhat bored as I watched yet another average horror movie.

Yeah, this will not end well…

I think mainstream audiences will find a lot to enjoy here. With solid visuals, a quick pace, and fun throwbacks to horror movies like The Omen, I don’t see any reason not to watch this serviceable horror. I just think with a bit more tweaking of the story and a deeper dive into the philosophy behind it’s core premise The Unholy could’ve been great, instead of just good.

Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10

So have you seen The Unholy? What did you think of it? For my review of exorcism flick The Seventh Day you can click here. Or for my ranking of the Conjuring Universe films you can click here.

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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