It begins in a thunderstorm in the hospital morgue as the creepy assistant Kenny takes photographs of the stitched up bodies for his personal collection; his boss knows and turns a blind eye, but which of the corpses is going to complain? Then as a lightning strike sends its vast power to the basement, everything changes as a stillborn baby begins to cry, reborn of electric charge.
So far, so horror, but directed by The Last Horror Movie‘s Julian Richards, Reborn swiftly moves from its overtly Frankenstein influenced opening scene through its synth-rock opening credits of neon-lit Hollywood to the present day, sixteen years later, as Lena O’Neil (Re-Animator‘s Barbara Crampton) prepares for an audition with her long-suffering agent Dory (Commando‘s Rae Dawn Chong).
A decade since she’s had a real role, still carrying the burden of her baby who was stillborn, Lena instead spends her time coaching students in acting when one of her classes is interrupted the unexpected arrival of teenager Tess Stern (Kayleigh Gilbert); their connection is immediate, the effect she has on the class electric, but the erratic and moody Tess is far more than she first appears.
The first feature by writer Michael Mahin from a story by producer Jeannie McGinnis, every scene of Reborn quite literally presents its point with dialogue absent of shade, nuance or depth, reading like a first draft which should have been passed to a more experienced or talented writer to expand the premise and develop the characters and situations to a more natural flow.
Instead, everything is spelled out with no attempt at mystery or twists, the scenes drifting in and out with little sense of drama, as flat as a daytime soap opera and wasting the talents of Crampton, Chong, Gilbert; they at least retain some dignity, unlike Streets of Fire‘s Michael Paré as the monosyllabic borderline illiterate police detective following the trail of bodies.
The performance of Alexa Maris as Gia Fontaine, hotly tipped diva of Lena’s acting class, is shockingly bad considering the function she supposedly serves, but perhaps that is the point, that in Hollywood actual talent is often secondary to connections or the right look; regardless of the intention, Reborn is lifeless and stilted in conception and execution, failing to capitalise on the eighties nostalgia it hopes to convey despite the pedigree of the cast.