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‘The Unhealer’ review: Throwback to 80s horror is familiar and fun

White science versus black magic.

The Unhealer will immediately give audiences the feel of a 1980’s horror movie. The story follows a bullied teenager named Kelly (Elijah Nelson) who receives unexpected help from a faith healer (Lance Henriksen). He soon realizes he has gained a power that makes him practically invincible. At first, he seems like the solution to many of his problems has been presented. Things soon take a dark turn.

The premise is a familiar one that writer-director Martin Guigui drops perfectly into the 21st century. All of the familiar players are in The Unhealer. There are the bullying football players, the popular girl who likes Kelly, and the parents that also seem to be in on it all. Social bullying and modern bullying is seamlessly woven in. It is a story that anyone will be able to understand.

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The Unhealer never feels derivative, however. There is a comfort in knowing the surroundings. Helping matters is the film’s ability to veer away from using too many tropes. Though Kelly shares ideas with his mother (Natasha Henstridge) about solving their money problems, there is never the expected outright abuse of power. (No wacky montage here.) If anything, the movie is more of a revenge thriller than an actual horror movie.

This is also where there are missteps. Many of the characters are inconsistent. This is most obvious in Dominique (Kayla Carlson) during the final act. She goes through a series of rapid attitude changes. Her opinion will sometimes change in the same scene! It takes away from a lot of the emotional impact of what is happening. The climactic confrontation is an especially confusing moment.

It is also hard to tell what type of story The Unhealer is trying to tell. While the vengeance plotline is easy to track, there are also elements of coming of age, responsibility, and white science versus black magic that are touched on but never really explored. Much like similar 80’s movies, the film does not follow through on everything it addresses, but remains fun the entire time.

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