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Monday, October 1, 2018

CYNTHIA -- DVD Review by Porfle

A major new contender in the ever-popular "monster baby" sub-genre, CYNTHIA (Indican Pictures, 2018) follows in the slimy footsteps of such classics as "It's Alive!" while adding its own twisted twists and post-partum pandemoneum. 

This time, we follow the desperately procreative efforts of young couple Robin (Scout Taylor-Compton, 247°F)and Michael (Kyle Jones), exhausted by having to try and get "in the mood" whenever she's at her peak fertility. 

When her home pregnancy test finally shows "positive", the happy news quickly gives way to even deeper expressions of manic anxiety.

People such as myself who have no interest in propagating the species will no doubt already find the movie nightmarish as we watch the two of them slog their way through all the insecurities, frustrations, mutual recriminations, suspicions of infidelity, and other insanity of such an endeavor.

Those who are going through or have gone through similar experiences are sure to identify with one or both of these frantic characters, even though their actions are comedically exaggerated.

Indeed, CYNTHIA is both horror movie and comedy, but the comedy, while clever and often perceptive, is played way down and never descends into farce.  This allows the script to get away with the more outlandish stuff which we accept even when it goes way outside the bounds of reality.

These bounds are shattered when Robin goes into labor and has a beautiful baby girl, in addition to a large, grotesque cyst which is immediately discarded.  As we all suspect, the cyst contains baby Samantha's twin, a horrific mutant monster (whom we will call "Cynthia") that immediately goes on a blood-drenched killing rampage as all mutant babies tend to do.

The death scenes are both shocking and perversely amusing, and the cops sent to investigate include genre icon Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, "Jason of Star Command") in his usual sardonic persona, adding to the film's dry humor.

But what pushes this one over the top is when the proud parents bring their precious darling home and are followed by their murderous, beastlike other precious darling who takes up residence in the ventilation system and metes out bloody mayhem to anyone who threatens Mommy or sister Samantha.

This will come to include both Daddy, who isn't getting along very well anymore with the increasingly irrational Mommy, and Mommy's annoying busybody sister Jane (Rebecca Marshall), a bitter, self-centered divorcee who gives Robin all the wrong advice and ends up on the receiving end of Cynthia's wrath.

It's all played straight and smart, with the biting (so to speak) comedy serving as a counterpoint to scenes that would've been too melodramatic or outlandish on their own.  This also gives a welcome satirical edge to some of the most horrific death scenes. 

The lead actors are all fine, while Haig and other familiar stalwarts make brief but welcome appearances.  Lynn Lowry (MODEL HUNGER) shows off her considerable acting skills as a sickly-sweet nanny who finds one baby too many in the nursery, and Robert LaSardo (HARD TO KILL, DOUBLE TAP, DEATH RACE) has some nice moments as a surly hospital janitor. 

Sid Haid cohort Bill Moseley (HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES, OLD 37) has a wild cameo as a homeless transvestite named Buttercup, and the great James Karen (BENDER, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) appears just long enough to make his way from one end of the screen to the other.

Hardly the kind of horror film to use up all its good scenes early and then peter out, CYNTHIA just keeps building to a climax that goes from queasy horror to nailbiting suspense (always with that comedy undercurrent) before ending on an old-fashioned "gotcha!" that caps it off with a shuddery smile.

Tech Specs
Runtime: 90 mins
Format: 1:85 HD
Sound: 5.1
Country: USA
Language: English
Captions: English
Genre: Horror
Extras: interviews with Rebecca Marshall and "Cynthia", trailers

Cast & Crew
Directed by: Devon Downs and Kenny Gage
Starring: Scout Taylor-Compton, Sid Haig, Rebecca Marshall, Bill Moseley, Robert LaSardo, James Karen


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