A young man gets more than what he bargains for when he gains powers in this thriller from director Martin Guigui.
Kelly is a young man who suffers from pica, in which he eats paper, Styrofoam, and erasers. He is bullied because of his disorder with local kids calling him “Trash Boy”. His only friend is Dominique, a cheerleader who he befriended when she moved to town a decade ago. When Kelly becomes very ill due to his condition, his mother doesn’t know what to do. When she sees a mysterious man, Reverend Pfluegel miraculously healing a woman of her ailment, she pays for him to help Kelly.
During his visit, something mysteriously happens to Kelly. Pfluegel dies after his healing. When Kelly learns he has the power to heal himself, he gains a new self-confidence. When one of the bullies confront him again, he discovers that when he is hit, he feels no pain but the person who hits him feels the pain. When Kelly’s newfound confidence and power gets the best of the bullies, an attempt to get rid of Kelly results in the death of someone close to him. Kelly decides to use his power for revenge. Meanwhile, Red Elk, a Native American has learned of Kelly’s powers and realizes he might be the only one able to stop him.
This is a really good thriller that melds the high school drama with supernatural horror film and Native American mythology. The story of a bullied teen using his newfound powers to get revenge is quite fascinating as it can be called a meshing of Stephen King and a morbid take on the Corsican Brothers legend.
Elijah Nelson is great in the role of Kelly, a high schooler who is considered weird because of a strange eating disorder. That disorder, pica, is a real thing in which people who are afflicted with it eat non-food objects with no nutritional value. We get to see Kelly go from this bullied teen to one of self-confidence after he is accidentally given his powers. The turning comes in the death of a loved one, at the hands of the local bullies, including the sons of the high school football coach. This leads to Kelly using his powers for revenge and at times, it can be gory, but others are more of a subtle take on deaths.
The legendary Lance Henriksen makes the most of his screen time as Reverend Pfluegel, who we see in the film’s opening minutes going to the Indian burial ground where he is given his powers. It is when he transfers his power to Kelly on accident that things are both dark and at times funny, thanks to Henriksen’s wit. Natasha Henstridge is wonderful as Bernice, Kelly’s protective mother who goes to great lengths to make sure her son is safe both before and after he receives his new powers while Kayla Carlson is his only other form of support as Dominique, Kelly’s childhood crush and the only one who will stand up for him when it comes to school.
Branscombe Richmond is excellent as Red Elk, the Native American who is in charge of protecting the gravesite where Pfluegel had gained his powers, which in turn, transferred to Kelly. He relies on help from local cop Adler, played by Adam Beach, who shares the same Native American blood. Richmond and Beach are vital to the film with their Native American roots and they come together to try to help suppress Kelly’s powers without having to resort to killing the boy.
The Unhealer is a really good hybrid of Stephen King and the Corsican Brothers legend thanks in part to Elijah Nelson’s great lead performance as well as Lance Henriksen and Natasha Henstridge making the most of their screen time with some pretty good death and painful scenes.
WFG RATING: A-
Scream Factory and VMI Worldwide present a Horror Business Films/Sunset Pictures/7 Ideas/Gama Entertainment Partners film. Director: Martin Guigui. Producers: Cristi Harris, J. Shawn Harris, Tony Hannagan, and Galen Walker. Writers: Kevin E. Moore and J. Shawn Harris. Cinematography: Massimo Zari. Editing: Peter Devaney Flanagan and Eric Potter.
Cast: Elijah Nelson, Kayla Carlson, David Gridley, Gavin Casalegno, Will Ropp, Thomas Archer, Mike Gray, Angeline Appel, Natasha Henstridge, Lance Henriksen, Adam Beach, Branscombe Richmond.