If you visit Hollywood anytime soon, stop and listen; that faint sound you can hear reverberating around those famous hills is the bottom of the barrel being well and truly scraped. And sitting right underneath the creative bucket are films like It’s Alive, a pointless remake of Larry Cohen’s 1974 cult classic that manages to be both unbelievably ludicrous and crashingly dull.
Lenore Harker (Bijou Phillips) can’t wait to be a mum; she and boyfriend Frank (Brit star James Murray) are excited to be first time parents. But when their son Daniel is born prematurely at just six months, it’s immediately clear something is very wrong – not least because the infant dispatches the medical staff immediately after being born. As Lenore slowly realises that her child is, in fact, a crazed demon with rampant blood-lust, her horror is at odds with her maternal desire to protect Daniel. But, as the bodies begin to pile up, she realises she may well have to take drastic action.
It’s difficult to know which element of this dull-fest is more unsuccessful. Is it the unconvincing performance from Philips, who turns Lenore into an annoying, simpering idiot who seems to sleepwalk through the horror unfolding in her home? Is it the clunky screenplay, which doesn’t give the characters any room to develop – Frank, for example, seems to be there as mere window dressing so minimal is his involvement in the story. Or is it Josef Rusnak’s by-the-numbers direction, which ensures every shock is signposted in advance and sucks all potential scares out of the story? Or is it Daniel himself, a ridiculous concoction of latex and fangs which, when he is finally revealed in the film’s dying moments, provokes laughs rather than terror.
Shoddy, ploddy and utterly stupid, It’s Alive is proof that the Hollywood horror genre is in desperate need of some CPR. 1 star
Stars Bijou Philips, James Murray
Director Josef Rusnak
Distributor Optimum Releasing
Released September 7