– Summary –
Director : David S Goyer
Year Of Release : 2009
Principal Cast : Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandet, Megan Good, James Remar, Carla Gugino.
Synopsis: A young woman is haunted by the spirit of her uterine twin brother, a brother who died before he was born. As the manifestations become more and more physical, and more violent, she must turn to a Jewish priest to perform an exorcism.
What we think : Generic thriller/horror film, played with a deadpan directorial style from director Goyer, who seems intent on pulling out every horror trick in the playbook to hammer home his point. The mystery is half-baked, the contrived scripting and occurrences make one want to scratch out an eyeball, and the almost pornographic way he displays the stunning body of lead actress Yustman is, frankly, deplorable.
I’m not always a fan of the modern horror film, due mainly to the desperate tactics modern filmmakers seem content to trot out to try and frighten us: jump cuts, pounding musical scores, jittery creatures emerging from the shadows – used sparingly these methods can be effective, but since they are used so often in so many films, the effect becomes diluted. The case for The Unborn being a good film isn’t a strong one. The premise is actually pretty creepy: a spirit from another world is looking for a way into our own, and it’s been seeking to utilize the family of Casey Beldon (Yustman – who appeared as Beth in Cloverfield) since her maternal grandmother was a child imprisoned in Auschwitz. The execution, however, isn’t that great. Casey has bad dreams about a small boy, who manifests himself in mirrors, before she learns that this spirit is jumping from body to body, in order to get to her. Her friends, family, hell, even casual acquaintances seem to be in the firing line. So Casey does whatever any spiritually vapid young person might do: assumes the worst and asks her local Jewish priest (Oldman) for an exorcism. Skepticism soon gives way to belief and resolve, and with barely a pause to check any kind of logic, Casey finds herself strapped to a gurney in an old mental hospital for her spiritual cleansing.
The Unborn, like many horror films masquerading as entertainment, treats religion like some sort of magic cure-all for evil spirits, and once more, a clueless rip-off of The Exorcist starts to take shape. Animals contort into abominations, as do stroke-afflicted hospital patients, and young children become the vessels of Casey’s imminent doom – with the volume at maximum and the editing at flat-out, The Unborn takes what could have been a fairly interesting concept and obliterates it with badly written characters, a terrible ending, and a style similar to a kitten in a blender. Odette Yustman is a decent enough actress, and attractive in the role, but Goyer’s seeming infatuation with her leads to all kinds of camera angles last seen in Caligula. Truth be told, I think I even caught a glimpse of – gasp – camel-toe at one point, something I think Goyer might have delighted in showing us. The Unborn doesn’t have anything resembling great characterization, and even poor Gary Oldman has an arc worthy of wiping your ass with. Carla Gugino, a great actress of incredible talent, has a glorified cameo as Casey’s crazy, suicidal mother, and James Remar is wasted as Caseys never-there father. Why he was even in the film is beyond me. The finale of the film, featuring a fairly benign exorcism, descends into a badly edited frenzy of flying bodies, creepy shaking and contorting, as well as 28-Days-Later styled shutter speeds. It’s a mess of a film, a film that truly had potential, had it not been for Goyers inability to create genuine tension on the screen. Goyer’s a master of style, and can film paint drying like nobody’s business, but with a script this convoluted and a set of characters torn directly from the Wes Craven Guide To Scary Movies, The Unborn is an abortion at best.