It’s Alive Review

Not Larry Cohen’s 1974 killer baby classic, but yet another unnecessary horror remake. Gary Couzens reviews the UK Region 2 release from Optimum.

Nicole (Skye Bennett) seems to have it all: a loving husband Frank (Raphael Coleman), a beautiful home and a baby on the way. However, when she goes into labour early and the team in the delivery room are all slaughtered by something unknown, she realises something is wrong. Her baby is clearly no normal child…

Since Hollywood seem on a mission to remake every notable 70s horror film, it’s no surprise to see a new version of It’s Alive. Larry Cohen’s original from 1974 is one of the films on which his cult following is based. It’s cheap and disreputable, likely to win few marks for polish, but brimming with wit and some genuinely subversive ideas – what strikes more at the heart of the image of the American nuclear family than a killer baby? It spawned (word chosen advisedly) two sequels, It Lives Again in 1978 and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive in 1987.

However, those gritty, subversive horrors of the 70s become precisely the opposite when remade in the Noughties. The 2008 It’s Alive is relentlessly ordinary from start to finish, bland and inert and tedious despite its short running time. It’s not incompetent, just completely lacking any vital spark that would distinguish it from any other horror film, whether a remake of a 70s classic or not. This film about a killer baby is stillborn. The ending leaves an opening for a sequel. Track down the original instead.

The Disc: Optimum release It’s Alive on a single-layered disc encoded for Region 2 only. It begins with trailers for Not Quite Hollywood, Martyrs and Eden Lake, which can be fast-forwarded but not skipped. It’s Alive itself carries a 15 certificate, but the first two of those trailers bump the overall certificate for this package to an 18.

There’s something rather odd about a low-budget horror film being in Scope (exceptions such as Halloween notwithstanding). The original It’s Alive isn’t, but this remake is, and it gets an anamorphic transfer in the ratio of 2.40:1 for this DVD. It’s colourful with solid blacks and a natural filmlike grain. It’s a very good transfer from what looks like a HD master – frankly, what you would expect from a DVD of any new film.

There are two soundtrack options: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround. Nothing wrong with either, though the surrounds tend to be used for musical jump cues that you can guess coming a mile off. No subtitles, as per Optimum’s always regrettable policy.

Apart from the trailers listed above, the only extra is the trailer for It’s Alive, which is in anamorphic 2.40:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sountrack and runs 2:22.


Updated: Sep 08, 2009

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