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The Unborn (2009)

Evil will do anything to live.

Directed by:

David S. Goyer

Rating: 2/10

Running Time: 87 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States

I don’t know why I thought there might be something about The Unborn worth watching. Oh wait—yes I do. The trailer had a scary dog with a mask, and Gary Oldman plays a rabbi. Judge me if you will, but I hoped that maybe those two things were just a hint of what was to come. OK, I didn’t really think that—I didn’t actually hold out much hope at all—and yet, still, I managed to be disappointed.

Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) is your typical college freshman, hanging out with her friends, having pseudo-intellectual chats about the nature of existence with her boyfriend, dreaming about fetuses and hallucinating about nasty bugs. When that last part starts to get to her—not to mention, she also discovers she’s part of a twinship and that somehow her part killed her brother’s part in-utero—she starts looking into the apparent suicide of her mother. Her quest leads her to the enigmatic Sofi, an elderly woman who tells her tales of bad spirits, known as dybbuks in Jewish lore, that are on the lookout for bodies to inhabit—and may have tried to inhabit her brother. Things go from bad to worse, and like these things always do, it all ends with an exorcism.

At just under 90 minutes, you can’t expect too much character development or attention to detail, but some would have been nice. Instead, we are faced with a lead character who’s as bland as beige, and if the audience doesn’t care whether the heroine lives or dies, the movie’s bound to suffer. But it’s not just that Casey is boring—it’s that the story, even though it actually sounds OK on paper, is presented as a chopped up mess of scenes that don’t flow, feeling instead like bits of exposition and attempts at visual scariness pieced together hastily without much thought to minor elements like plot or consistency. Supposedly, Casey cuts herself off from the world when the bad starts, but really, are we supposed to believe that no one—her best friend, loving boyfriend, dad she lives with—are checking in regularly? The parts that looked promising in the trailer, like the freaky-eyed little boy or upside-down headed old guy, are, unfortunately, shown in the trailer and not nearly as disturbing in the actual film. It was nice to go with Jewish demon mythology instead of the traditional Christian devils, but rumor has it that this whole dybbuk thing was already about to be explored in Ghost House Pictures’ upcoming Dibbuk Box, though I can’t imagine that The Unborn is going to be remembered as the point of reference for Jewish demons. I say, whatever happens, you’re better off waiting for any other incarnation, even if it never happens, than sitting through this one.

It's Got: Gary Oldman in a role he was quite possibly threatened into taking, a few minor scares, a back story that could’ve been good.

It Needs: A more developed lead, scarier scares, less choppy scene-to-scene flow.

Alternatives:

The Exorcist, The Eye, The Omen

Summary

There’s really no good reason for this film to have been made, and even with a couple of mild screams, there’s also no really good reason to see it.

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