starring Judy Reyes, Marin Ireland, AJ Lister, Breeda Wool
written by Laura Moss & Brendan O'Brien
directed by Laura Moss
by Walter Chaw In this year of the distaff Frankenstein riff, sandwiched between Bomani Story's exceptional The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and Yorgos Lanthimos's upcoming Poor Things, find Laura Moss's fucking awesome Birth/Rebirth, which, like Story's film, manages to smuggle in a sharp, eloquently deployed payload of social and philosophical issues alongside just enough satisfying gore and a gratifying amount of real terror. I wonder if the key to the success of these films, Story's and Moss's, has to do with filmmakers who aren't white men taking their shot at interpreting what is and always has been an essentially, perhaps the essentially, progressive genre text--one authored by a woman, no less, the daughter of one of the most important figures in the early women's-rights movement, Mary Wollstonecraft (who published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), and political philosopher/anarchist William Godwin. First-time readers of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein might be surprised by its political sensitivities--its critique of a carceral state in which there is no forgiveness, only the presumption of guilt based mainly on appearance and social status. By how the Monster's fate is predetermined as he's cast off to educate himself with pilfered books and shelter amongst others whom polite society has labelled "misfit" and "outcast." Frankenstein is a story of class war. Mary and her husband didn't even eat sugar because of its role in the Caribbean slave trade. The Monster says, "I heard of the division of property of immense wealth and squalid poverty of ranked dissent and noble blood." He was woke as fuck, and this was 1818.