Much like Toni Morrison's acclaimed novel Beloved, this horror film explores the legacy of slavery and -- just kidding. This movie is to slavery as The Unborn is to the Holocaust, a relentless parody of its own failure and stupidity. At least The Unborn had "Jumby," a creepy dead entity-kid with his own catchphrase.

This one's just got a random blond child named Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) with visions of the Underground Railroad after her family moves to a spot in rural Georgia where lots of runaway slaves were killed. Don't know what The Underground Railroad is? Then you are the perfect unschooled audience member and the film will take time out of its busy schedule of not scaring you at all to explain: "Do you mean the folks who helped escaped slaves make it up north?" asks Heidi's mom (Abigail Spencer, slumming it post-Mad Men) of the kindly African-American preacher who has stopped by their broken-down country shack to welcome them to ghost-slave territory. "Yes," says the preacher, "and the moon lit their way to freedom." Or something like that. Seriously.

Heidi gets the brunt of the punishment for her family's decision to move to a forgotten escaped slave trap/killing field. Creepy old ghost-grandpas push her off her bike and whisk her into the woods for playtime. Mom's wild-thing sister (Katee Sackhoff) makes sure the kid knows she's got the terrifying gift of seeing dead people. Cicely Tyson pops up for a hot second with milky eyes and giant Halloween dentures to further warn the child that Satan could easily manipulate this gift, because that's a thing you should tell a third-grader. Explanations of taxidermy, lynchings and machete-slayings are Heidi's bathtime stories. She nearly drowns, vomits up bugs and winds up stuck in a deep pit with stuffed corpses and more ghosts. Her parents, rational thinkers they are, consent to submitting her to what appears to be a Southern Baptist exorcism. So yeah, she's sturdier than most children by this point. Thanks, all family and local religious leaders, Child Protective Services would like a word. After that, a horror police squad I'm forming to protect audiences from boredom, a deputized unit with the force of law behind us, will be coming to arrest you all.

Ask the people who wrote and directed this movie (let's just pretend the Internet isn't real and that we can't find out who they are) and they might tell you that there was some kind of allegorical intent, a meaning beyond confusion and aimlessness and wiggling camera technique. Ask the producers and the other money people and they'd probably tell you, excitedly, about their plans to turn this into a decades-long franchise, one that eventually involves all the restless undead in every U.S. state and Puerto Rico. Then ask yourself if life is long enough to spend the time it will take to consume another minute of room-temperature un-horror like this. When you're finished probing your soul for that answer, you should go to the library and check out Beloved. It's a really good book.


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