The Unholy Preview

Jamie and Patrick stand ready for the influx of ninja as Kyle slowly opens the door, fearing for his own safety and wondering what could have happened to lovely Rachel and her lovely pretzels. The door swings open and Jamie and Patrick’s twin chop stops short. Rachel looks between them wide eyed. “What’s going on guys, who wants some piping hot pretzels?” Kyle quickly shuttles her to his room. “Don’t mind these jokesters, Rachel. They definitely didn’t think you were a pack of Dongle obsessed ninjas,” he says while staring daggers at them. Jamie shakes his head and puts his hands on his hips. “My word, what’s going on, Patrick? We almost twin chopped Rachel’s head off and all because you thought she was a pack of Dongle obsessed ninjas. The only pack I saw was the six pack of salty delicious soft pretzels she was carrying. And guess what? I’m not thinking we’re getting any pretzels tonight.” Jamie is clearly peeved. Patrick just shakes his head in wonder. “I don’t understand. We have this Dongle and yet what are we protecting it from? If I was our mortal enemy I would have exploited our pretzel obsession with ninjas. It’s almost like no one cares… you know?” He flops sadly into the couch. “What is this all for? Our lives used to be so exciting and yet now we just sit here, our Dongle in our hands.” Suddenly there is another knock at the door and they hear hardscrabble reporter Lindsey Appleton ask to come in. “My god!” Patrick says excitedly. “What, is she also a ninja?” Jamie asks, but Patrick shakes his head and through a series of intricate hand signals he explains that she is in fact the devil himself in disguise. That’s right! We are watching the major 2021 motion picture The Unholy. ‘What?’ you ask. Only the biggest theatrical release of last April. It’s about a reporter and the devil or something. Who cares? Let’s go!

The Unholy (2021) – BMeTric: 52.4; Notability: 15

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 4.8%; Notability: top 13.2%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 14.1%; Higher BMeT: Space Jam: A New Legacy, Thunder Force, He’s All That, Cosmic Sin, Deadly Illusions, Music, Awake, Home Sweet Home Alone, The Kissing Booth 3, The Misfits, Spiral, Great White; Higher Notability: Space Jam: A New Legacy, Tom and Jerry, Music, Chaos Walking, Infinite, The Addams Family 2, Home Sweet Home Alone, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Red Notice, Snake Eyes, Sweet Girl, Cherry, Dear Evan Hansen, The Starling, Thunder Force, The Birthday Cake, Reminiscence, The Woman in the Window, Voyagers, Breaking News in Yuba County, and 13 more; Lower RT: After We Fell, Out of Death, Cosmic Sin, Separation, Music, Midnight in the Switchgrass, Breaking News in Yuba County, American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally, Deadly Illusions, Infinite, Die in a Gunfight, Home Sweet Home Alone, Zone 414, The Virtuoso, The Misfits, Sweet Girl, The Starling, Every Breath You Take, Senior Moment, Thunder Force, and 8 more; Notes: So hard to tell with this year-of releases. BMeTric is very high though. And low-5.0 on IMDb is formidable.

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), investigating an incident of “cattle mutilation” in a small Massachusetts town, trips over another bigger story, when a deaf teenage girl sees the Virgin Mary in the trunk of the scariest-looking tree on the planet. Quivering with religious ecstasy, she performs a couple of miracle cures, and when word gets out—thanks to Fenn’s stories—her small town turns into a modern-day Lourdes. But is the Virgin Mary who she says she is? Based on James Herbert’s 1983 novel Shrine, “The Unholy” is fairly standard religious horror, just in time for Good Friday. It has some excellent jump-scares, but overall there’s something rote about the execution, bits that feel sketched-in as opposed to filled out, and a surface-level interest in the main theme of Herbert’s novel: what happens when the unholy masks itself as holy? The local priest says, “Wherever God goes, the unholy follows.” You got that right. The devil doesn’t strut into town cackling with evil glee. The devil is a smooth-talking charmer. “The Unholy” is not designed to be deep, but since glimmers of depth are present, the lack of follow-up makes this a disappointing watch. “The Unholy” misses a lot of opportunities to build out not just this idea, but all of them.

(That is a very long paragraph to effectively say: a rote religious horror film we’ve now seen dozens of times. I’m more interested in reading the book now though.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmQiJPLYzPI/

(Oh boy, the little teaser bit at the beginning looks awful. And the rest indeed seems very generic.)

DirectorsEvan Spiliotopoulos – ( BMT: The Unholy; Notes: He’s written a ton of films (including this one). This is his first directorial effort, so he is obviously looking to expand things out.)

WritersEvan Spiliotopoulos – ( Known For: Beauty and the Beast; Charlie’s Angels; Hercules; Battle for Terra; Pooh’s Heffalump Movie; The Blue Elephant; Art Heist; Future BMT: The Huntsman: Winter’s War; The Jungle Book 2; BMT: Snake Eyes; The Unholy; Notes: Wait … he wrote Snake Eyes and The Unholy this year?! Busy bee.)

James Herbert – ( Known For: Haunted; The Survivor; Deadly Eyes; Future BMT: Fluke; BMT: The Unholy; Notes: Evidently a staple of British horror writings, he has a bunch of novels from the 70s and 80s which are notable enough to get their own wikipedia page. I think I’m going to read The Rats, his first book and the first in a trilogy of horror books he wrote.)

ActorsJeffrey Dean Morgan – ( Known For: Watchmen; Rampage; The Losers; Solace; The Salvation; The Postcard Killings; The Resident; They Came Together; Heist; The Accidental Husband; Texas Killing Fields; Taking Woodstock; Shanghai; Desierto; Walkaway Joe; Peace, Love & Misunderstanding; The Courier; Six: The Mark Unleashed; Live!; Dead & Breakfast; Future BMT: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Fred Claus; P.S. I Love You; The Possession; BMT: The Unholy; Jonah Hex; Red Dawn; Notes: Oh you mean Denny from Grey’s Anatomy. He’s a character actor of sorts, but now a television star with his turn as the bad-guy-turned-good-guy Negan on The Walking Dead.)

Cricket Brown – ( BMT: The Unholy; Notes: Acted almost entirely in short films prior to this, including Wake Up by Olivia Wilde.)

William Sadler – ( Known For: The Shawshank Redemption; Iron Man Three; The Green Mile; The Mist; Bill & Ted Face the Music; The Highwaymen; Die Hard 2; The Hot Spot; Rush; Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; Kinsey; Freaked; The Duel; Project X; Freeheld; Trespass; Being Flynn; Hanky Panky; Greetings from Tim Buckley; Freedom; Future BMT: Eagle Eye; Machete Kills; Disturbing Behavior; The Grudge; August Rush; Man on a Ledge; Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight; Bordello of Blood; RocketMan; BMT: The Unholy; Hard to Kill; K-9; Solo; Notes: The Unholy, Hard to Kill, and K-9 were all this year. Truly the Year of Sadler. He played Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey in a Tony Award winning production of Biloxi Blues.)

Budget/Gross – $10 million / Domestic: $15,530,440 (Worldwide: $30,830,440)

(Looks okay maybe. Especially considering the pandemic. I imagine they would be looking for like $50 million)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (15/57): Rarely scary and often dull, The Unholy falls back on the same tired tropes that have already been done to death by countless other religious horror movies.

(Nooooooo, not dull. The rest seem more reasonable. I do imagine this is just a run of the mill religious horror film.)

Reviewer Highlight: The Unholy has the stately aura (and endless speechifying) of a sermon, but it’s really a creaky nothing of a B-movie, like a chintzy Halloween exhibit set up inside an old church. – A.A. Dowd, AV Club

Poster – The Totally Unholy

(I like that it’s artistic and how everything is framed. Adequate font to boot. Biggest critique is that it seems a little unpolished. Almost like fan art or something. A little too much going on maybe. I don’t know. Still pretty good. B.)

Tagline(s) – Be careful who you pray to. (B+)

(I kinda like this. Simple changes lend a level of cleverness to it. It’s quick and concise and gives us an idea of what’s going on. A little clunky, though. Could it have just been ‘Be careful what you pray for’? Maybe they took it a step too far and now it sounds a little off.)

Keyword(s) – miracle

Top 10: Blade Runner 2049 (2017), The Princess Bride (1987), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), The Green Mile (1999), Children of Men (2006), Watchmen (2009), The Unholy (2021), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), The Passion of the Christ (2004), Awakenings (1990)

Future BMT: 55.0 Evan Almighty (2007), 44.5 The Reaping (2007), 41.2 Ben-Hur (2016), 41.1 Michael (1996), 30.8 Arthur and the Invisibles (2006), 25.2 Miracle at St. Anna (2008), 24.6 Angels in the Outfield (1994), 20.9 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), 20.2 Do You Believe? (2015), 9.3 The Nativity Story (2006)

BMT: The Unholy (2021), A Walk to Remember (2002), Winter’s Tale (2014), Going Overboard (1989), Solarbabies (1986)

Matches: Children of Men (2006), The Unholy (2021), The Prince of Egypt (1998), Winter’s Tale (2014), Miracles from Heaven (2016), Breakthrough (2019), Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), The Christmas Candle (2013), The Cokeville Miracle (2015), Henry Poole Is Here (2008), Leap of Faith (1992), A Christmas Tree Miracle (2013), Miracle on Christmas (2020), The Reason (2020), 17 Miracles (2011), Touch (1997), Picking Up the Pieces (2000), Joshua (2002), Miracle at Sage Creek (2005), The Third Miracle (1999), A Karate Christmas Miracle (2019), The Visitation (2006), Julie Walking Home (2002), The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shepherd (2000), A Lobster Tale (2006), Taliesin Jones (2000), Runaway Hearts (2015), The Final Patient (2005)

(What happened in 2005 to make religious films bounce up so much I wonder. Passion of the Christ proving that religious themed films have power? That seems like it. And man, I don’t look forward to watching Evan Almighty eventually.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Cary Elwes is No. 3 billed in The Unholy and No. 3 billed in Kiss the Girls, which also stars Ashley Judd (No. 2 billed) who is in The Identical (No. 2 billed) which also stars Ray Liotta (No. 3 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 2 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (3 + 3) + (2 + 2) + (3 + 2) + (3 + 1) = 19. If we were to watch P.S. I Love You, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – Based on the classic gothic horror novel by master of the genre the late James Herbert.

The publicity/marketing campaign for “The Unholy” utilized preeminent Parapsychologist Christopher Chacon to promote its release. As one of the world’s foremost authorities on supernatural/occult and metaphysical phenomena, Chacon has investigated and researched thousands of cases around the world of miracles and divine-intervention phenomena, as well as thousands of possessions and supernatural infestations, having worked with the Roman Catholic Church as well as every religious/spiritual belief-system.

In Spain the movie was titled “Ruega por nosotros” (Pray for us), referencing the “Ave María” (“Hail Mary” in English), a Christian prayer about the Virgin Mary: -Spanish: “Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia. El Señor es contigo. Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús. Santa María, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén”. -English: “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”.

The movie mentions Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugore. (1) On February 11, 1858 in Lourdes, France, a 14 year old girl named Bernadette Soubirous told her mother that a lady had talked with her from a cave close to her home in Massabielle. Due to the different apparitions and miracles in Lourdes, on July 3, 1876, Pope Pius IX officially granted a Canonical Coronation to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes. (2) On May 13, 1917 in Fatima, a town belonging Ourém, Portugal, three children — the siblings Francisco, Jacinta and Lucía do Santos — claimed to have witnessed the appearance of the Virgin Mary, who talked them and gave the oldest sister, Lucía, three prophecies (known as the Three Secrets of Fatima). Diverse miracles happened where the three children had seen her, such as a dancing sun and miraculous healing, and a sanctuary was built in that place. In 2000, Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta in 2000, after their premature deaths in 1919 and 1920. (3) On June 24, 1981 in Medjugorje (now Bosnia and Herzegovina, then SFR Yugoslavia), six teenagers named Ivan Dragicevic, Ivanka Ivankovic, Jakov Colo, Marija Pavlovic, Mirjana Dragicevic and Vicka Ivankovic — the oldest of whom were 16 — claimed to have received messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary, causing strong controversy among the anti-Catholic regime in Eastern Europe at that time (the USSR was opposed to any demonstrations of religious faith). In time, all three places became places of pilgrimage, even for the later Popes of Rome, receiving several million visitors each year, with further healing and miracles continuing to this day.

The movie ends with a quotation: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s. clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” It is from Matthew 7:15.

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