A botched faith healing bestows supernatural Shaman powers on a bullied teenager named Kelly (Elijah Nelson). When his lifelong tormentors pull a prank that kills someone he loves, he uses his powers for revenge and goes on a bloody rampage to settle the score.
As soon as I saw the terrible poster for The Unhealer, which looked like it was ripping off the artistic design of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster, I was ready to write this off as a horribly uninspired movie that felt like a student film. But nevertheless, I clicked play just to see if it would pleasantly surprise me. And shockingly… it did.
One of the biggest reasons as to why this film is as fun as it is is because of the premise and how much fun screenwriters J. Shawn Harris and Kevin E. Moore had with it. It’s not a very original concept to be fair – Josh Trank‘s 2012 film Chronicle had a similar plot and is a significantly better movie in every way – but the filmmakers know this. They know that this plot isn’t game-changing or original, but they take it and find fun and entertaining ways to mess around with it to the best of their abilities.
If there is one thing that’s original about the concept, however, it’s the powers that this kid has. If somebody tries to seriously harm him by shooting him in the head with a pistol, sure, it may hurt him for a split second, but in return, the person that shot him will end up being the person that gets shot and killed. It’s kind of a trippy movie in some ways, but I loved seeing the scenes that go all out with no restraints.
There are definitely some moments that are a little bit corny and some sequences that felt like they were shot on an incredibly small shoestring budget. It is obvious while watching The Unhealer just how small the budget is which is a shame because if this got huge amounts of funding, this could have looked and felt amazing. But instead, it does feel sort of amateur at times.
Something that pleasantly surprised me here was the performances as well. Sometimes I tend to find that performances in smaller films like these often end up being quite bad whether it’s because the casting director hires actors who turn out to suck or they just don’t have enough experience. Gratefully though the performances here are actually quite decent.
Elijah Nelson does a great job in the lead role of Kelly, who definitely had a lot of fun with this character. I mean, who wouldn’t? He is essentially the one that gets all of the best scenes and it was clear while watching the film that he had a blast while portraying this character.
The other actors are good as well such as Natasha Henstridge and Kayla Carlson, but one of the biggest scene-stealers here is without a doubt Adam Beach as Sheriff Adler. He is a very layered and interesting character to get to learn more about as the story progresses. He feels quite mysterious yet enthralling at the exact same time. Beach’s emotion and range are extremely understated here.
Overall, The Unhealer has its fair share of problems. It often feels like it suffers from a small budget, has some boring points, and has some corny moments but for the most part, it’s a fun and entertaining ride that takes a familiar concept and has a bucket load of fun with it.
Overall Grade: B-
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Directed by: Martin Guigui
Distributed by: Scream Factory
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Running Time: 94 minutes