Director – John Carpenter
Cast – Ron Perlman, Mark Feuerstein, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Bill Dow, Chad Krowchuk, Graeme McComb, Benjamin Rogers, Caitlin Wachs, Biski Gugushe, Jeremy Jones
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This film has one of the cooler plots I have seen regarding abortion. Most of the time the only abortion oriented films we get come from Hong Kong or Japan and have to do with aborted fetuses being used in a variety of ways. Well, that is not the case with this film. Pro-Life may be one of the only film ever to attack the Roe vs. Wade dilemma…with a nice twist of horror. Given to us by one of horror’s greatest directors ever, John Carpenter, this was an interesting and simple watch that tackles a rare subject in the horror genre.
Pro-Life follows a group of abortion doctors and nurses who run into a pregnant 15 year old stumbling along the side of a rural road. Upon bringing her to the hospital they learn her identity, much to their horror. This is no ordinary girl, but Angelique Burcell, the daughter of an adamant anti-abortion activist whom the abortion center has a restraining order against. When her father shows up to retrieve his daughter he is not let in by security, even though by law she is under the legal age to have an abortion without parental consent. Her father, Dwayne Burcell(the always awesome Ron Perlman), is not happy with this, and will not be stopped. Along with his three sons he leads an armed onslaught against the abortion center with the mindset of protecting his daughter’s unborn child…at all costs. Unfortunately for the abortion doctors(and Mur. Burcell), her child was not fathered by a human man. The father of her baby is also known in The Bible as “The Father of Lies”, and will release an onslaught of his own to keep his baby alive.
I really enjoyed this film’s plot. Aside from what I mentioned earlier about this having a unique take on the abortion element, this gave us some nice conflict thanks to its religious elements. There is just something about religious elements in films that always interests me, especially when involving demons/Satan. In this film we are able to pick sides between the Burcells who believe they have the authority to supersede the clinic because the girl is underage, and the doctors who feel it is their obligation to ensure the girl’s safety. Regardless of who you choose, both parties are in for a big surprise. The Burcells have not realized that is it not God who gave Angelique the precious child they are trying to save, but Satan himself who fathered her child and has manipulated them into ensuring his child’s safety against the doctors. In the case of the abortion doctors, I enjoyed their conflict as well given they have an even more formidable foe standing in their way. They should not be fearing Mr. Burcell, but the “Father of Lies” that basically hired them to protect his child. Heh. Regardless, whoever you root for his screwed, and I enjoyed that a lot.
Aside from the sweet conflict the story is pretty simple and moves accordingly with a simple story. In other words, the story takes its time to develop, meaning not a whole lot actually happens throughout the film. Much like the TV series “24”, this hour long flick takes up and an hour of real runtime. Some may like this, others may not and feel that it tends to drag and elongate scenes a bit. Personally, I lean towards the latter and feel that this one did tend to take a little too much time with what was going on. That is the biggest reason behind this film achieving only a 6-rating. It is a bit too simple in story and direction to warrant anything more.
Speaking of direction, John Carpenter did an OK job with this one. I was not overly impressed with his direction during the first half of the film, but once the second half kicked in he gave me what I had been waiting for. He laid the gore on thick and did a fine job putting on-screen one of the most horrible kills imaginable, giving an abortion to the head abortion doctor…a male. How do you do that if a man does not have a vagina? Easy, you do what Mr. Burcell did…make one. The rest of that procedure was carried out as if it were the real thing, vacuum and all. Yeah…wow. My favorite aspect of Carpenter’s direction was his live action use of Satan and the scene development of Satan’s appearance during the third act. That again, was a “wow” moment. It was quite possibly the freakiest looking Satan I had/have ever seen, and I liked that.
Overall, this was an OK entry by one of horror’s best directors. We get a nice plot that although consists of some nice elements not before seen in the horror genre, it is a bit slow and takes its time. I recommend this to all fans of the horror genre and those who would like to see an interesting take on the Roe vs. Wade dilemma.
– I ranked this film #16 out of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.