REview: The Unholy (2021) | Good Idea, Weak Storytelling

Evan Spiliotopolous’ The Unholy has a lot of good ideas though doesn’t explore anything deeply enough to matter.

It revolves around similar subject matter as Netflix’s Midnight Mass (2021), namely the intersection of faith and the worship of false/deceptive entities though The Unholy approaches the subject matter so simplistically that nothing particularly resonates.

The story revolves around a disgraced journalist Gerry Fenn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who happens to unleash a demonic entity that has its sights set on damning as many people to Hell as it possibly can.

It’s based on the novel Shrine by James Herbert and while I haven’t read it I can’t imagine it’s as unnuanced as The Unholy happens to be.

It has a lot of great ideas – such as the entity while alive was named Mary of Elnor and it returns the people it reaches out to assumes that it’s the Virgin Mary though it never actually says and instead takes advantages of people’s preconceptions and misconceptions.

To sweeten the pot it heals people, feeding their delusion that they’re praying to a beneficent being (as long as they bring it worshippers, otherwise it gets very vengeful).

This is probably the best idea the movie presents though an occasionally clever idea and the charisma of Jeffrey Dean Morgan aren’t quite enough to make this movie interesting.

Which isn’t to say that it’s not watchable – it is – though as long as your expectations are relatively low you’ll probably enjoy yourself – especially if you enjoyed Darkness Falls (2003) which not only has a similar-looking antagonist but is equally weak story-wise.

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