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It's Alive (2008)

First Look Studios
DVD Released: 10/6/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/7/2009

In my recent review for Grace, I talked about how killer-baby movies go in cycles and we get one every few years. Well, apparently the powers-that-be felt that too much time had gone by since the last killer-baby flick, as we've now gotten two in a short span of time. Following quickly on Grace's heels onto DVD is It's Alive, a remake of Larry Cohen's infamous 1974 film. Will this movie have the power to jump-start the homicidal tyke genre?

Bijou Phillips stars in It's Alive as Lenore, a twenty-something graduate student who is six months pregnant. Against the advice of her roommate, Marnie (Ty Glaser), Lenore decides to leave school for the time being to have the baby. She moves in with her boyfriend (husband?), Frank (James Murray), and his brother, Chris (Raphael Coleman), who is wheelchair-bound. Lenore has barely unpacked when she begins to have severe abdominal pains. Frank rushes her to the hospital, where the doctors discover that the baby has doubled in size since Lenore's last check-up and that it is ready to be delivered. Lenore is taken to the OR for a C-section, but as the baby is delivered, someone kills everyone in the room, save for Lenore and the baby. Shaken by this, Frank takes Lenore and baby Daniel home. Lenore immediately notices that something is odd about Daniel, aside from his size. He can sit up, roll over, and, oh yeah, he likes to eat small animals. Afraid that someone will want to hurt Daniel, Lenore does everything that she can to protect him. But, who will protect the world from Daniel.

As with the original It's Alive, this new film opens with a baby being born and all of the personnel in the delivery room being slaughtered. However, that's where the similarities end. In the original, the baby was a deformed monster with a huge, veiny head (designed by Rick Baker) who escaped into the city, killing anyone who got in its way. It was chased by the police. In other words, it was clearly a monster movie. The new It's Alive takes a different approach to the material.

In fact, instead of being similar to its predecessor, It's Alive has a lot more in common with Grace. (Is this one of those situations which Hollywood types would refer to as synergy? I'm not sure which movie was made first, but I do know that the release of It's Alive in the U.S. was delayed quite a bit...although it did open in the Middle East earlier this year (?!).) Both films deal with new mothers who brings their child home from the delivery, only to discover that there is something wrong with it. In Grace, the baby craved blood and would take it from its mother. In It's Alive, the baby also wants blood, but it will take it from anything or anyone that it can.

The original It's Alive was a film which certainly had some shocking moments and played on delicate subject matter, but it was also campy fun. This new movie is simply stupid and is insulting to both the audience and to mothers. Once Lenore gets home with Daniel, any kind of plot development ceases and the film simply becomes an exercise for Daniel to kill any unsuspecting animal or person. The scene rarely shifts from Frank's house during the last 2/3 of the film, as we sit and watch more victims enter the abode. The movie never lays down any clear ground-rules for what Daniel is and what he can do. We get a brief explanation of what could have caused the problems, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. We are told that Daniel is advanced for his age, but when Lenore finds the crib empty and she begins calling his name, I had to laugh out loud. Was Daniel going to hear her and come running? Meanwhile, Frank seems oblivious in all of this. At least in Grace, the new mom lived alone and could keep the baby hidden from the world. Here, Lenore and Daniel share a house with two other occupants, and they never seem to notice the youngster crunching on critters.

As mentioned above, the movie also makes a mockery of doting mothers. The movie wants to portray Lenore as a slightly irrational mother who wants to protect her child. And, that certainly happens with mothers, especially the mothers of newborns -- they will stop at nothing to protect their children. But, moms also want their kids to be healthy, and when you learn that they've been eating pigeons, it may be time to call the doctor or at least crack open a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting a Monster. The ending is supposed to show how mothers will make the ultimate sacrifice, but it only rings hollow.

Is it possible to make a truly good killer-baby movie? Based on the recent entries, I have to say no. It can be very difficult to make the audience, especially a jaded horror audience, afraid of a baby. In It's Alive, we never see the baby, we only see the aftermath of its crimes. The movie is plodding, insulting, and stupid. Maybe they should have had a newborn take a crack at the script.

It's Alive is able to leave the house, kill two adults, and get back in on DVD courtesy of First Look Studios. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. There is little artifacting. Other than the fact that the image is somewhat soft at times, this is a good transfer. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, as are the surround effects, and they are well-placed in scenes where Daniel is moving about. We also get some nice subwoofer effects during the "shock" scenes.

There are no extras on this DVD.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long