Review: “The Unborn”

January 11, 2009 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

When I first saw the trailer for this movie a few months ago, I’ll admit, I was excited.  My thing with horror films is to avoid them, since they usually involve teens or adults in their 20’s getting chopped up by someone/something.  I don’t find this appealing since I don’t get scared, and the whole point of a horror movie is to be scared.  It’s not that I don’t jump whenever the bad guy comes out of nowhere, it’s just that when the movie is done, I’m still not scared.  A good horror movie will make me want to keep the light on at night.  The Exorcist, to me, is the scariest film ever made because even to this day I have to keep a light on in my room after I watch it.

The first trailer I saw for The Unborn focused on the creepy little kid (I have a thing about little kids in horror movies…they freak me out).  Then, as more promos were released, I started to see all the weird creatures that would appear in the movie, and I started to become disinterested; ‘creature’ movies to me a just as boring as slasher movies.  What really scares the crap out of movie are stories of ghosts or possession.

The best thing about this movie...

The best thing about this movie...

The Unborn is a little bit of ghost story, possession, and creature flick all rolled into one.  The studio is really trumpeting the fact that the writer/director, David Goyer, co-wrote the recent Batman films, along with the Blade trilogy among others.  Unfortunately, he tries to meld all these different genres into one, and it just doesn’t work.  The story centers around a 20-something college girl, Casey (Megan Fox lookalike Odette Yustman) who is haunted by strange visions surrounding this creepy blue-eyed child.

Howd you like to wake up to this?

Her visions become terrible nightmares and hallucinations as this ghost child causes horrific events to occur in real life.  She then learns that this ghost has been haunting her family for generations and it falls to her to try and break the cycle.  The story itself actually gets interesting, since it deals with a family curse that goes all the way back to World War II and the Nazi experiments on Jews.  What hurts the story is some terrible dialogue and an uninteresting 1st half.

There really is no ‘setup’ for this movie; it starts with Casey jogging and having some strange hallucinations.  I also don’t remember seeing an opening title sequence of any kind (which is fine with me).  It just takes a while for the actual story to take place, most of the first 30 or 40 minutes is strange hallucinations.

The story gets good when they introduce some of the supporting cast like Sofi (Jane Alexander), who has a connection to Casey’s past, and Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman), the man whom Casey turns to for spiritual advice.  Unfortunately, both Alexander and Oldman are wasted in the movie.  The rest of the supporting cast really don’t do much either: the super-hot Meagan Good is canon fodder as Yustman’s best friend, and Casey’s boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) only plays a major role at the end.  To her credit, Odette Yustman is actually pretty good here; she tries to give emotional weight to her character even through terrible lines (“My life depends on this!”. . . ugh, give me a break).

The scares in this movie are entirely comprised of cheap jump-out-at-you moments.  Yes, I jumped a few times, but I found myself laughing for having fallen for such a cheap shot.  There are some pretty disturbing images, such as people and animals with upside-down faces, and large insects that skitter about everywhere.  Also, there are nods to old-school horror films throughout, such as twisting heads (The Exorcist) and crazy dreams (Rosemary’s Baby).

While I like David Goyer as a writer (his contributions to the Batman screenplays are noteworthy, and I like what he did with Blade), I don’t think he has what it takes to direct his own screenplays.  The Unborn is a technically competent movie, with nice framing, subdued colors, and scary atmosphere.  However, the script is what bogs this movie down.  The premise itself is something different, as ghost stories and tales of possession generally focus on the Christian traditions; here there’s a connection to Jewish folklore.  For die-hard horror fans, this might be worth checking out if you enjoy cheap scares, but for casual viewers, skip it.

5.5/10

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