Really? Maybe if he dug up the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers, or uncovered evidence of war crimes, or maybe if he tripped over a long-lost safe deposit box containing Adolf Hitler’s teenage diary, maybe these things might warrant a re-entry into the big leagues. But interviewing some crackpot teenager healing people in a field in Massachusetts? I kept thinking: “He goes out of town for weeks, putting himself up at a motel, for an online mag only paying $150 a story. Even if the motel is cheap, the trip would cost way more than $150.” Per diem for journalists doesn’t really exist anymore like it used to, not to mention salaries, but still, it’s a bit much, especially for a cattle mutilation story. Granted, “The Unholy” is not supposed to be a realistic portrayal of today’s gig-economy for freelance journalists, but the fact that I was distracted by the la-la-land portrayal of journalism is indicative of the film’s inability to hold my interest.
Cinematographer Craig Wrobleski pours on the moodiness, with off-center angles, a wintry palette, and a conception of the town as a scary place, with scary-looking churches, scary-looking woods, scary-looking run-down buildings. The mood itself is frightening. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is always an interesting actor, and here he fills up what is a pretty underwritten role with shades of disappointment and awareness of his many failings. But even he can’t single-handedly create a friendship with Alice through one conversation about music. There’s supposed to be a big emotional pay-off with this friendship. The payoff doesn’t come.