The Unholy provides occult counter-programming for the religious horror devoted in time for Easter.
Almost a decade after being sucked into a dybbuk haunting in The Possession, Jeffrey Dean Morgan reunites with Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures for a story that tills the soil of Massachusetts for its history of charred witches and, this time around, draws on Catholic demonology instead of Jewish folklore.
“The Unholy” stands as one of the intriguing entries into the horror genre. One person pivotal to its unnerving atmosphere is the Production Designer, Felicity Abbott. Let’s dive deep into the elements and mysteries that make “The Unholy” an unforgettable experience.
The Unholy Production Designer
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The film has an intriguing introduction, but it grows increasingly overblown and corny from there. It also relies heavily on recycled plot devices that have been done better elsewhere, from Ringu to the Conjuring Universe.
This is an average effort that relies more on production values than innovation, much like the most of Ghost House’s work since Raimi himself directed the wickedly amusing Drag Me to Hell in 2009.
(Don’t Breathe, a tense 2016 film about a house invasion, was the main exception.) The Unholy is Evan Spiliotopoulos’s first foray into the writer-director role, and while it’s enjoyable enough, it doesn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Spiliotopoulos’s lengthy list of screenwriting credits is dominated by extended Disney properties. This initial change is already a step in the right direction.
The prologue of this film, which is based on the 1983 novel Shrine by English horror writer James Herbert, depicts the burning alive of a young woman in 1845 as seen through the eyes of a mask worn by the victim.
Quick cut to her body dangling from a giant oak tree in a grassy field. Gerry Fenn (Morgan) is a cynical photo-reporter for the tabloids in modern-day Boston who focuses on sensational supernatural items.
Disgraced journalist pursues a fake report of possible Satanism in the tranquil farming village of Banfield because he is a fame whore with a history of creating tales. When he’s about to give up and decide the journey was a waste of time, he discovers a “kern baby” at the foot of the same tree from the prologue.
When Gerry finds out that the dolls were used as talismans to ward off evil, he does what any careless jerk would do and breaks one open in an effort to create a more exciting story.
Father Hagan (William Sadler), the priest at the tiny white New England church that overlooks the field, is worried about the panic among his congregation. When Alice, however, convinces a kid with muscular dystrophy to forgo his wheelchair and walk, rumours quickly spread that the oak tree is the location of miracles.
- Film studios: Screen Gems, Ghost House Pictures
- Distribution: Sony
- Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Katie Aselton, William Sadler, Cricket Brown, Diogo Morgado, Cary Elwes, Marina Mazepa, and Christine Adams.
- Screenplay and direction by: Evan Spiliotopoulos, adapted from James Herbert’s Shrine.
- Among the producers: are Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Produced by Andrea Ajemian and Romel Adam
- Cinematographer: Craig Wrobleski
- Production designer: Felicity Abbott
- Costumes designer: Jennifer Lynn Tremblay
- Arrangements and compositions by: Joseph Bishara
- Editing Team: The Jake York
- Casting: Nancy Nayor
- Length: 99 minutes; PG-13 rating
Felicity Abbott: Crafting the Horror
Felicity Abbott, the mastermind behind the movie’s art direction, intricately wove a tapestry of horror that played with viewers’ nerves. Her keen eye for detail, combined with her vast experience, ensured that “The Unholy” had an authentic and eerie ambiance.
The Mysterious Doll:
A key element in “The Unholy” is a peculiar doll. Its presence is unsettling and raises numerous questions, especially concerning the date inscribed on it. While we won’t divulge the exact date for those who haven’t seen the movie, it plays a pivotal role in linking the past with the present horrors.
Setting of “The Unholy”:
The setting is a quaint town, which on the surface appears serene but hides a dark past and unspeakable secrets. This juxtaposition of tranquility and lurking horror amplifies the movie’s tension.
The central character in “The Unholy” is Gerry Fenn, a disgraced journalist who stumbles upon the mysterious happenings in the town. His journey, filled with skepticism and eventual realization, forms the movie’s core narrative.
The Enigma of Mary:
Mary’s character has garnered much debate among fans. Is she truly evil, or is she a victim of circumstances? Without revealing too much, her role in the narrative is multifaceted, and her intentions remain one of the movie’s biggest mysteries.
Plot Overview of Unholy:
“The Unholy” revolves around Gerry Fenn’s investigations into a series of miraculous events in the town. However, as he delves deeper, he realizes that these miracles might have a sinister origin, tied to the town’s dark past and the unsettling doll.
The Climactic End:
The finale of “The Unholy” is a crescendo of horror and revelations. While it wouldn’t be fair to reveal the exact details, let’s just say that it ties up the narrative threads while leaving the audience with lingering questions.
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“The Unholy” is a masterclass in horror, with Felicity Abbott’s production design being instrumental in creating its atmospheric tension.
From mysterious dolls to enigmatic characters, the movie offers a blend of horror and mystery that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. For those who haven’t experienced “The Unholy” yet, it’s a journey into the heart of darkness you won’t want to miss.