What’s it About?
When a scared 15-year-old girl (Caitlin Wachs) goes to an isolated clinic to end her pregnancy, her anti-abortion activist father (Ron Perlman) and brothers arrive, heavily armed and determined to force their way in and stop the procedure.
“Pro – Life”
Directed by John Carpenter
“Pro Life” marks Director John Carpenter’s second entry in the wildly popular Horror Series “Masters of Horror”, created by Mick Garris (The Stand). His first “Cigarette Burns” with Norman Reedus and Udo Keir was a very well done and enigmatic mystery and an astute psychological horror film. It garnered well deserved praise from horror fans and Carpenter-philes alike.
Mr. Carpenter takes a very different approach with “Pro Life” First by having the film written by the team of Scott Swan and Drew McWeeny. Second , dealing with the controversial topic of abortion. However, having the writers dwell on too much formula does not bode well for this sometimes tepid, average and confusing entry. It is Rosemary’s Baby meets The Thing. And folks, it’s a bit of a mess.
First off, I must give some praise to Ron Perlman who can never fuck up a role or movie he’s in. But here he is given nothing to really work with other than just loudly re-acting, chewing the scenery and always being pissed off. There is no emotional depth for his character because he is just written as a horror caricature and is left to emote un-enthusiastically. Unfortunately generalizing that “All Pro-Life” people are angry and violent. Not good, fellas. Not even engaging or remotely dramatic.
He does make the best of, though, with just his presence and a remote but sincere and burning performance. Caitlin Wachs plays Perlman’s daughter who is convinced that the baby is abnormal somehow and wants to end her pregnancy. Wach’s performance while a bit clunky in scenes is true, earnest and meaningful. The performances fuel the film. Emmanuelle Vaugier also gives a capable but a bit dull turn as the clinic nurse.
The last half becomes a bit ludicrous. As her brothers and Father move in and take over the clinic we then find out who the real daddy is. Unfortunately, we have a Demon Daddy that looks not only fake but unconvincing and we have the baby itself that wants to re-unite with Demon daddy. It looks like a cross between a huge crab and a recycled effect from The Thing. It is neither scary or menacing. Actually, it is quite laughable.
As things wind down to the corny and uninspired climax we are left with just a few saving graces. Cody Carpenter’s (John’s son) appropriate and eerie score and Attila Szalay’s good camera composition. Both emulating from Carpenter’s film playbook. They both manage to build some suspense musically and look visually pleasing from shot to shot. But that’s about it, though. I am a huge John Carpenter fan. I love his films but this one is just boring, lazy and predictably banal film work. Watch it for it’s strongest asset: The decent performances, including Perlman’s. That would be the only way I’d recommend this “Masters of Horror” entry from Mr. Carpenter.
Well that’s too bad, the premise sounds edgy and interesting, it could have been a great feature length if no punches were pulled. I’ve always like his movie Prince of Darkness.
I’ve seen this Showtime series advertised but haven’t given it a look, I’ll have to change that. Let us know if there any other episodes that stand out as well.
Thanks for reading Erik. Prince is an outstanding entry in Carpenter’s work. I really wanted to like this film but I couldn’t fool myself. I’ll let you know about other Masters of Horror films. There are a few. JC’s Cigarette Burns being one of them.
Spot on review. I would have given it the exact same rating. It falls into the Ghosts of Mars JC dissapointment list, which thankfully, is short.
Agreed, Brian. There are other great entries in the Masters of Horror show. Entries from Stuart Gordon, John Landis and even Joe Dante stand out above this mess by JC.