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SURROGATE (2022)

Directed by David Willing.
Written by Beth King, David Willing.
Starring Kestie Morassi, Jane Badler, Taysha Farrugia, Louise Siversen, Darcy Kent, Ellie Stewart, Ellie Tevelis, Matthew Crosby, Jennifer Vuletic, Kate Cole, Brett Cousins, Olivia Solomons, Nicholas Jaquinot,
Sophie Cheeseman, Arlo Cimino, Roy Barker

After an unfortunate encounter with a crazy lady at a gas station where she must administer CPR, nurse Natalie (Kestie Morassi) returns home with stomach pains. Though she makes sure her daughter Anna (Louise Siversen) is well cared for, Natalie continues to experience stomach pains until she wakes up in a bed full of blood. Rushed to the hospital, the doctors explain that Natalie shows signs that she has recently given birth. The problem is that there is no baby and Natalie didn’t show signs of pregnancy. This explanation doesn’t sit well with the doctors and social worker Lauren (Jane Badler) who begins investigating into Natalie’s life. When Anna begins showing bruises that are given to her by a mysterious girl who visits her in the night, Lauren becomes concerned thinking that Natalie is abusing her. Meanwhile, a strange entity seems to be forming an attachment with Natalie and a strong jealousy towards Anna.

So yeah, there’s an awful lot of complex motherhood issues going on. I have to give it to this film for exploring a rather strange and unique paranormal experience. There are shades of THE BABADOOK going on with the film dealing with pressures of being a mother under heavy stress, though in this case, the stress is both from social services and a strange unknown entity. Though it’s not the same, SURROGATE reminded me of THE ENTITY, when Barbara Hershey develops a very unromantic relationship with a horny ghost. In both films, a woman’s sanity and well being as a mother are called into question by authorities. We often think of ghosts as vengeful spirits or shapeless shadows. Thinking of the paranormal entities as actually having unhealthy feelings is an avenue rarely explored. That makes this story stand out from most ghost children stories.

Unfortunately, past the premise, things get very familiar fast as Natalie becomes a junior detective uncovering the seedy history behind the entity that is haunting her and believing she is its mother. I understand uncovering the mystery is key to the story, but seeing a haunted woman looking through answers with priests, mediums, and taking things into her own hands to venture through abandoned buildings is just cliched in this day and age.

There’s quite a lot of visceral gore as quite a bit of carnage is unleashed upon Natalie’s body during her short pregnancy/possession. While I wasn’t really impressed by the orange Alka-Seltzer effect that those afflicted with the paranormal entity isn’t very impressive, the scenes where Natalie is on the operating table is quite gruesome. Kestlie Morassi conveys these complex emotions of dealing with an unwanted pregnancy as well as the pressures of motherhood very well, making her a very sympathetic character to follow. All in all, though there are some beats that will seem familiar, SURROGATE is different enough and made capably enough to feel pretty fresh and entertaining, despite its ultra-bleak ending.

Check out the trailer here!!