'Birth/Rebirth' - Born Again and Again

"Birth/Rebirth" via IMDb.

“Birth/Rebirth” (IFC/Shudder), the feature-length debut from Laura Moss (who also co-wrote the screenplay), puts a distinctively female spin on the reanimator concept. We watch as an unlikely bond develops between a socially awkward pathologist name Rose (Marin Ireland) and OB nurse Celie (Judy Reyes), all in the name of love and science.

In the first few minutes of the movie, we witness how different Rose and Celie are. Celie is a devoted single mom who rides the bus home with her young daughter Lila (A.J. Lister) after retrieving her from the daycare center at the Bronx hospital where she works. Rose, on the other hand, collects sperm from a perfect stranger in a bar bathroom and inseminates herself at home where she lives with a pig named Muriel.

The next morning, Lila is sick, and because she can’t bring her to daycare, Celie leaves her with neighbor Pauline (Rina Mejia). Over the course of the day, Lila sickens, and after dropping her phone in a toilet, Celie misses distressed calls from Pauline. Once home, she discovers that Pauline has taken Lila to the hospital where the girl has died of bacterial meningitis.

Celie is devastated but tries to hold it together. All she wants to do is see Lila one more time. When she pays a visit to the pathology department, Rose tells her that Lila’s body was sent to the medical examiner. The truth is that Rose has packed the girl’s lifeless body into a rolling suitcase and is taking her to her apartment.

When Celie discovers that the M.E. doesn’t have the body, she tracks down Rose at the hospital. Rose runs away from her, and this suspicious behavior leads Celie to plant herself at Rose’s doorstep, where she’s able to overpower her and gain entrance. It’s then that she discovers Lila in a hospital bed hooked up to various machines. According to Rose, Lila’s genetic profile made her an ideal candidate for the experimental treatment on which she’s been working. To bring the dead back to life. As it turns out, Muriel the pig, who is wandering around the apartment, “died two months ago.”

Despite the “ethical considerations,” Celie and Rose team up on the project. Celie moves in, and both women continue to work at the hospital (a necessity for the experiment) as they are on different shifts. Soon Lila is breathing on her own as a result of “good science and hard work.” United in their mission, for vastly distinct reasons, the women find a way to coexist.

But a series of complications arise, and regardless of Lila’s rapid regeneration (including standing, walking, and making vocalizations), her chances of survival are jeopardized. Unfortunately, for Emily (Breeda Wool) a pregnant woman who is a patient in the hospital’s OB department, she is unknowingly drawn into the complex web of the experiment.

Ireland and Reyes are exceptional, each skillfully bringing their diverse characters to life. The ick factor of the movie is also handled well, meaning you won’t have to cover your eyes for much of the action. However, you may never look at pathologists the same way after seeing “Birth/Rebirth.”

Rating: B

Gregg Shapiro is the author of nine books including Refrain in Light (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2023). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in South Florida with his husband Rick, and their dog Coco.


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