Review: The Unborn
PLOT: Casey Beldon is a young woman still dealing with issues about the death of her mother years before. But this soon becomes the least of her worries after she begins hearing strange noises coming from her bathroom mirror. And when a boy she is babysitting gets a little creepy and announces that “he” wants to be born, the visions of a long dead child get worse and worse. She soon seeks help from a Rabbi with a knowledge of the occult. Casey and her Rabbi friend ultimately battling a ghost that has the power to take over the body of all those around her. Today would be a good day for an exorcism.
I love the idea of using folklore or religion to tell a tale of horror. There are so many stories that linger throughout history and become a part of modern day society. So when David S. Goyer took on a story of a Dybbuk, a demon, or the soul of a dead person that takes over the living and causes some damage, it could have been pretty terrifying. But then again, how many religious type, or spiritual horror films actually work? And with THE UNBORN, it seemed there were a handful of other ideas and images pieced together in an almost clumsy fashion. During my viewing of the film, I sort of felt as though I should be playing guess the inspiration. While this is not necessarily a bad thing when used sparingly, it starts to become tiresome when you start counting down your entire horror collection.
There are possessions, a monster man that looks like something from JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING, and then that same monster is soon doing an EXORCIST walk. I dug the monster itself, in fact, when David uses the creepy looking kid or the man turned beast, I had a bit of fun. But as I mentioned, I felt as if I should have a checklist that I could match the scene with whatever inspiration that came to mind. While all of the comparisons may be, for the most part coincidental, it became a huge distraction. The cut and paste editing didn’t help things much either. One character will disappear for awhile, then just show up to move the plot along. Some of the sequences would build in a very strange and far from natural way. And by the time the plot finds its way to an oddball exorcism, everything goes into overdrive. People are being possessed, doors are slamming and all hell breaks loose. But when all is revealed, I realized I had it all figured out after the first ten minutes.
But wait, could it be that I still had a decent time with it? Actually, I did. I think, while I didn’t love the script, there was an element of fun as the lovely Odette Yustman battles kids in mirrors and a bunch of bugs. In fact, Odette is so good in the role of Casey Beldon, a girl faced with some unknown family history, that I was able to go along for the ride occasionally. And speaking of good, I had a fun time watching two solid actors like Gary Oldman and Jane Alexander in what is basically a B-horror film. Well, a B-horror film with a decent budget. Both actors add a bit of class to the film and they take it seriously enough to warrant a look. In fact, most of the performances are fine, even the creepy kid. Frankly, there were a couple of times even I jumped when he was popping up. Although, guess what that reminded me of?
All in all, THE UNBORN doesn’t feel like something written by the same fellow who has brought Batman back to cinema in a big way. If feels like fragments of several movies placed together with some odd editing and a way too familiar feel. Yet the small handful of beasties and ghosts are creepy enough and it certainly has an interesting look. While I wouldn’t call THE UNBORN a failure, I would say that it felt just average. In the end, it is a safe PG-13 horror film that is better than most “horror” films with that particular rating. While the plot seems layered as the story stretches back to Josef Mengele and some awful experiments on children during the Holocaust, it feels overwrought. While it will probably make for a fun opening weekend scare with a ready and willing audience, it is actually a predictable thriller that would be better enjoyed in the comfort of your own home on DVD. My rating 5/10 -- JimmyO