Anyone with children understands the sheer terror that comes with that process. The love we feel for children cannot be understated. Almost every parent will go to the ends of the earth to keep their loved one safe. Yet even then, we cannot always protect them. However, movies blend emotion, science, and horror to illicit important discussions. Birth/Rebirth examines the lengths we go to for those we love and the compromises we are willing to make.
Celie (Judy Reyes) works long hours as a nurse. One day, she drops her daughter Lila (A.J. Reyes) off with a friend and goes to work. Tragically, her daughter passes away without Celie at her side. Yet when Celie tries to see her daughter’s body, it appears to have gone missing. After following another odd, but focused doctor (Marin Ireland), Celie discovers her daughter is breathing. However, the two women must test their moral and ethical limits to keep her alive.
Much of Birth/Rebirth plays with horror subgenres. It pulls heavily from vampiric, zombie, and witch-based lore. At the same time, it forces characters to hold vital conversations about what it means to be a mother, a woman, and a caregiver. The oaths they have sworn to uphold as medical practitioners become far more complicated in their new life. As they explore what this means for each of them, the women must grapple with their new vision of the world.
Reyes spent years on Scrubs as its unsung heart. That shorthand goes a long way in helping the audience connect to her frustrations and pain. Reyes crafts an entirely new character and, at the same time, uses that history to help us fully relate to her emotional arc. It’s some of Reyes’ best work in years on the big screen. The actress continues to surprise and earns every minute of screen time with her emotional turn.
Ireland delivers a very different role than her Somewhere Quiet or Boogeyman roles. She steps into a far less likable role but crafts a truly monomaniacal woman. As she deals with big questions about her future and her position in the world, she coldly analyzes everyone around her. While her analysis may not speak well of herself, she hopes to find some form of connection with somebody.
Ultimately, their performances carry Birth/Rebirth. Director Laura Moss ensures that subtext becomes text when necessary and ensures their emotional moments hit hard. There’s a frantic approach to a moment that opens and closes Birth/Rebirth that truly stands out as top-tier filmmaking. While interesting and exciting to observe, the story suffers from some pacing issues. Sequences in the middle struggle to land on either an emotional or philosophical level, and the tension Moss has built dissipates. There’s an argument the slow burn approach works on the whole, but these scenes in Act 2 need more energy to keep us engaged.