Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Rebirth: Its What You Need On Netflix
self-help book that is actually legitimate should be the first and last one you’d
ever need to read. Likewise, going through a process called “Rebirth”
definitely sounds like a one-time only experience. Yet, apparently many
followers keep getting Rebirthed over and over again. It is hard to understand
why, given how harrowing the process is for a reluctant new initiate in Karl
Mueller’s Rebirth (trailer here), a Netflix
original movie that starts streaming today.
Something is a striving yuppie with a wife and kid, who has made peace with his
conversion to bourgeoisie respectability—mostly. Then along comes his
long-lost, off-the-grid, counter-culture college roommate Zack to rock his
world with an invite to some sort of Kumbaya retreat called “Rebirth.” Against
his better judgement, Kyle agrees to attend, but then feels rather put out when
it looks like he already missed the whole show.
turns out, they are just going to make him work for it. Yet, even when he
follows the clues, everyone makes him feel distinctly unwanted, especially the
cult’s high-ranking femme fatale, Naomi. She has a habit of answering questions
even more pointed questions, which will have viewers pulling their hair out in exasperation,
along with Kyle, but that strong reaction is sort of the whole point.
Kyle wanders through the cult’s complex, he will stumble into 1960s encounter
groups from Hell, hazy, drugged-out orgies, and some Medieval genre business.
However, something about the Rebirth shtick keeps him from taking flight.
Indeed, Mueller is absolutely spot-on identifying the manipulative methods
cults use to control people. Frankly, the wilder Kyle’s Rebirth gets, the more
believable the film becomes.
Kranz is cringe-inducingly perfect as the gawky, out-of-his-depth Kyle. You can
see how uncomfortable he is in his own skin. He just has potential cult victim
written all over him. Frankly, he is probably just lucky Rebirth got to him
before Scientology. Nicky Whelan, resembling an aloof Robert Palmer
back-singer, just makes him look small. Adam Goldberg is also surprisingly sinister
channeling his inner New Age puppet-master as the slogan-spouting Zack. For
extra added genre cred, Pat Healey eventually turns up in a cult-related role.
However, nothing is scarier than Harry Hamlin playing a touchy-feely love guru.
Mueller’s execution is tight and tense, bearing
out the promise of his unjustly under-rated Mr. Jones. He seems strangely comfortable navigating the terrain between
psychological thriller and horror movie. It all works so well, you will rush to
re-read Eric Hoffer’s True Believer and
Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear after
watching it. Recommended for fans of cult films about cults, Rebirth now streams on Netflix.
Labels: Movie cults, Netflix