I’m gonna take a moment here and expose myself. There are two fundamental truths about me: 1. I will watch anything for cute people, and 2. I’m scared of a loooot of stuff. The big three probably is manipulation of technology (AI, hacking, detrimental advances), space, and cults. Somehow I’m always watching stuff that will freak me out. So what happens when you put Fran Kranz in a trailer that features people in a cult-like environment screaming, “not a cult!”? You get Mint scrambling to watch Netflix’s Rebirth.
I need y’all to know that I love me some Fran Kranz; Topher Brink will forever be my smart baby (Dollhouse is my FAVORITE show) so I was already sold seeing him in it. Watching the trailer, I kind of back tracked because cults really squick me out. I just don’t understand how people join them. I always fear I’m like secretly susceptible and will derail my life for some Elvis impersonator that wears sunglasses at night. Yet, I can’t escape cult stuff: there’s a cult episode of Dollhouse, I was intrigued by The Path, I watched most of The Following. It’s always vaguely interesting and you get some great acting out of it, but it does frighten me.
So Rebirth follows Kyle Madison (the ever adorable Fran Kranz), a “corporate drone” who falls into a monotonous rut. He’s the social media something or other for the bank he works at, has a pretty wife, and an adorable daughter. He lives in routine: go to work, come home, play games with his daughter, rinse repeat. Then, one day his college buddy Zack (Adam Goldberg) visits him at work to get him on board to a Bro’s Weekend at a seminar called Rebirth.
From the jump, getting access to the place is difficult. It immediately was more work than I personally would have put in, with lots of reading between the lines. Still, Kyle prevails and gets to the shuttle to the Rebirth center; this is where things get cult-y and weird. They have these half masks on the bus- I’ll just say now I’m not going anywhere that requires I put on a creepy mask, but Kyle’s a trooper. They get to the center and the plot thickens.
Now, this is a movie that plays on frustrations. You’re with Kyle on this journey so you get just as confused and angry as he does when characters deflect with vague questions or get brutally antagonizing. There’ a lot of weirdness and wondering what’s going on, and it’s excellent. It’s almost as if you’re going through the rebirth too and you vaguely hope that everyone’s right: at the end of the line it is worth it.
The movie probably won’t end the way you expect it to, which isn’t spoilery, just fact. You’ll have so many theories while watching that the end will be a surprise either way. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know if I think it’s a good one. But nonetheless, the acting is amazing. Adam Goldberg was phenomenal; every choice he made was effective. He made you feel what he wanted you to feel and it’s honestly amazing. Fran Kranz gives off a perfect frantic energy throughout keeping you in this wary, almost terrified space which really works for the thriller moments. Also, shout out to Andrew J West, his scene is stressful, he’s very convincing with this dark, mocking air (he was Gareth on The Walking Dead so are we really surprised here?).
Across the board, there were stellar performances, and the movie really does make you feel something. I think at the very least, it did what it set out to do in the best way it could. And, I’m definitely steering clear of bro weekends, so now that I know to beware I count that as a plus.
Rebirth is available on Netflix.