This is the first time up to the plate as a director for Greek-born Evan Spiliotopoulos. He has a long list of writing credits, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Huntsman: Winter War.” He also wrote the screenplay for “The Unholy.” He certainly does a credible job as a director. Low-budget genre films give lesser known directors a chance to display their skills.
Also working in this supernatural horror flick are Jeffery Dean Morgan, currently seen on TV’s “The Walking Dead,” a zombie apocalypse story that has run for over a decade, and Cary Elwes, most famous for his role in the immortal “The Princess Bride” in 1987.
I had a hard time deciding what kind of a movie this is. With the shocking title, “The Unholy,” we sort of expect an epic battle between the forces of good and evil with human souls in the balance. We got that in such gripping, creepy and disturbing films as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist.”
Those were seriously entrancing films. “The Unholy” has the same general theme but not the tension or the “I can’t watch, I can’t turn my head” dilemma of the deeper films. Think of it as light horror.
Or, this might be a poorly named religious film. We get to learn a good deal about Catholic teaching on matters of the miraculous and random bits of theology. The audience never for a minute has a doubt about the eventual outcome of the film, unlike the more compelling and better films. We just walk through the story until we reach the long expected conclusion.
Some of the special effects are nice. The demonic presence looks demonic. But the pacing of the film prevents the watcher’s emotions to reach the level of a jump, much less a scream. In intensity and scope “The Unholy” is more like a bland, TV movie than one of the horror classics.
“The Unholy” runs for 1 hour 39 minutes. The PG-13 film rates a not scary two sawblades. If you like religious-themed films about Beelzebub intruding directly into human affairs but don’t want to actually be scared, you will like this one.
Sam Raimi produced this movie through his production company Ghost House Pictures. Raimi directed the famous “Evil Dead” movies and more recently “Spider-man” trilogy. I bet he had fun making this movie.
For parents, one character gets nailed in the face, some people are murdered by diabolical means and bad words, including some of the worst, flow easily from the actors lips. This will not be for younger children.