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It’s Alive (2008) – DVD Review

It's Alive (2009) DVD cover


Written by: Paul Sopocy, James Portolese, and Larry Cohen, based on the original 1974 screenplay by Cohen
Directed by: Josef Rusnak
Starring: Bijou Phillips, James Murray, and Raphaël Coleman

Released by: First Look Pictures
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Abort It

Lenore (Phillips) is a young college student who has gotten herself knocked up. Lucky for her, her boyfriend Frank (Murray) is happy about the pregnancy and is right by her side. It also helps that he is a successful architect with a nice house in the country. Unlucky for her, her baby wants out early. Even worse luck, when she awake from the C-section, the entire surgical team has been torn apart. Young babies tend to have a fascination for big people food. But young Daniel, the newborn, has a yearning for big people as food. Yes, Daniel is truly gifted when it comes to slaughter and mayhem. His mother would be so proud, if she wasn’t busy trying to hide the evidence of Daniel’s messy eating habits.

[ad#longpost]It’s Alive (2008) is another in the seemingly endless horror remakes that Hollywood is pooping out to cash in on an audience that wouldn’t know good horror if it shoved a machete through their stomach. Now I have not seen the original 1974 version, so I cannot judge on how faithful the remake is or how the new version compares to the original. My research does show that the general consensus holds it to be of the “so bad it’s good” variety. There is none of the campy quality to the new version and that is its biggest mistake. Well that and Bijou Phillips. But more on her later.

Let’s think about the premise: a killer baby. Let me say that again, a killer baby. This is, of course, quite silly. And with such silliness, the problem is the movie takes itself way too seriously. We are talking about a baby that is capable of taking down an entire room of doctors and punching through a person’s head. But the dad doesn’t see anything odd about the baby where actually, this kid should be built like a brick shit house. I know, I’m trying to apply some real world logic to this, but if you’re going to make a movie in the real world, you need to use its logic. You sense that the filmmaker was trying to use the themes of how isolated and life changing it is for a mother, especially a young mother, to have a baby. When several of my friends had children, we all made a point to visit them with food to give the parents a break and of course play with the baby. The house in this film is set out in the woods with no neighbors in sight and the mom cuts off all ties to her college friends. That can be an interesting concept to play with in a horror film, but it’s hard to concentrate on that when you have a killer super baby.

Then there is Bijou Phillips. Good God, what a mess. Her performance is all over the map and it’s a map of bad acting. First off, she has this cutesy baby-doll voice that makes her sound more 12 than 20. She doesn’t give us any character, she merely gets doe-eyed when she’s with the baby and unconvincingly horrified when confronted with the baby’s bloody kills. Of course, it may be that the screenwriters wrote the character to be stupid. I know mothers love their children, but as a rule, they will at least take their child to the pediatrician if the baby starts killing things. Frankly I think the only reason they hired her was she had big perky nipples that would be easier to shoot for the breastfeeding screens.

Baby attacks cop in Its Alive (2008)
Does not play well with others.

As an aside, I am getting tired of “the unrated version.” This has become a buzzword for naughty dirty sex on film, but it so rarely delivers on that promise. It doesn’t take much to freak out the MPAA, so what is added is so much less than people think. And like I have said on many occasions, with the easy availability of real porn, do audiences need to spend money so they can see Bijou Phillips’ big perky nipples. On every level, this remake is a diaper full of the aftermath of feeding the baby some spicy Thai curry.

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