Kevin's Review: The Unborn - Better To Not Haven Been Born At All
by Kevin Powers
January 9, 2009
Well before the release of writer/director David Goyer's The Unborn, the Dark Knight-scribe talked of a possible sequel to the dybbuk scare -- an opportunity, he said, to go deeper into the origins of the spirit haunting lead Odette Yustman (Cloverfield). Now that the film has come forth, any idea of continuing the story should be aborted posthaste. With its impaired speech, unusual movements and awkward sense of sexuality, The Unborn is a deformed film unbecoming of Goyer. While his directing background is limited, Goyer has some formidable writing credibility. However, none of that talent is inherited by The Unborn; and despite an intriguing premise, would have been better not to have been born at all.
From the outset, you get the impression that the film is one to hunker down with -- to study the elements and appreciate the slow-paced storytelling and the careful framing. Casey (Yustman) is quietly out for a jog when she notices a solitary blue glove laying in her path. Picking it up, she then encounters a young boy with similarly blue eyes, who in a blink turns into an ominous dog donning a mask. It's creepy imagery and appropriately paced, but the reverence for Goyer's style quickly falls away as the director shows all of his cards, revealing his reliance on trite tactics of the genre. A bevy of useless scenes come at you, literally, in order to incite a scare. The screeching brakes of a subway train suddenly come into frame; the ghostly child's face lunges at your view for no reason at all. And when the chips are down, Goyer sloppily hurries through scenes seemingly violating his own rules of the story. If the dybbuk, the evil spirit following Casey, wants to be reborn through her, why is it violently attacking her? And if it can inhabit anyone's body, what's with all the foreplay?
Titillating the audience is clearly on Goyer's mind, considering his brazen use of sex-selling in the film. Can you recall a hotter horror couple than Casey and Mark (Cam Gigandet)? As Casey continues to battle her dreams and hallucinations of the dead boy, whom she soon learns is actually her fraternal twin who died in childbirth, her bathroom mirror becomes ground zero. In the story, mirrors (and twins) are gateways -- "the doorway is open" is repeated numerous times -- which affords many a scene of Casey waking up in the middle of the night in her taught undies to investigate. Such sequences were seemingly important enough for Goyer to even have it on the official poster for the film. Sex sells, after all. You can chalk up pointless scenes of Mark shirtless or the disconnect when Casey says she needs fresh air (and she actually goes to take a sexy shower) to sloppy convention. But the use of a glory hole as a conduit for evil is wholly unorthodox. Maybe Goyer is trying to tell us something about public sex. Doubtful. However, an intention like that would have made more sense.
As Yustman tries to manifest the needed emotion for Casey's character, it becomes clear that the actress and the film's writing has limited range. You see Casey's world collapsing around her, but you wouldn't know it by reading Yustman's face. And you would think she'd be really upset, considering that she knows so much about what afflicts her. Playing a well-worn card of genre, Goyer includes extended scenes wherein Casey recites clearly and calming what's happening and what's next. Just in case the audience wasn't keeping up. When she takes an ancient tome to Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) asking for an exorcism, she confidently informs him to translate the text to perform the ceremony, despite either knowing how to read Hebrew. And when she fills her best friend in on why she broke all the mirrors in her house, you get the distinct feeling Casey is reading from the book "How-To: A Guide to Defeating the Dead Evil Twin Who Wants My Uterus."
Goyer has clearly (and disappointingly) miscarried with The Unborn. While I appreciate leveraging real folklore, creating a notable scare or two, and convincing the wonderful Gary Oldman (and Idris Elba) to join the cast, there's just so much to dislike about this film. "I want a Catholic exorcism!" Casey blandly demands, as if she's picking from a Chinese menu. Let's hope this experience will at least exercise whatever deluded demon inhabited Goyer, and convince the studio to wear protection next time. We don't need another one like this running around.
Reader Feedback - 32 Comments
this year started out great
darrin on Jan 9, 2009
movie may suck but she still has a sweet ass.
Cody on Jan 9, 2009
Goyer has shown he is no director with Blade Trinity.
Darunia on Jan 9, 2009
Jesus, why not just put her whole butt on the cover and get it over with? Then put a big red arrow pointing at it marked BABY SHOOT. Minus several points for that poster/cover which obviously was put there because the film is weak by itself. As for the rest of the film; spinning people's and dog heads around while twisting them like contortionists may look good on paper, but it is old hat (Exorcist-1973) and obviously not enough to save this train wreck of a horror film.
Blackstar on Jan 9, 2009
"Now that the film has come forth, any idea of continuing the story should be aborted posthaste." "Goyer has clearly (and disappointingly) miscarried with The Unborn." Really? You wrote a review to knock this movie with words you believe to be "tongue-in-cheek" - but these references are particularly tasteless. They don't add anything to what you're saying and if you were trying to be witty, you failed miserably. That said, I agree that this movie looks horrible.
Jessica Maria on Jan 9, 2009
Right on, Kevin! Poorly written and executed. Trite imagery and effects. Not even a rental.
Joe on Jan 9, 2009
I hate the jerk offs that rip on the reviews, if you don't like them, go to another bloody page. I like his blunt outlook on the movies and make a lot of my choices on movie selection based upon his reviews. If you don't appreciate it, go the f*ck somewhere else
midnightlight on Jan 9, 2009
Kevin - but you just convinced me to not see the movie? I understand you may have been trying to emulate the triteness of the movie - but a (bad) review is supposed to rise above, reason why it's not good, and convince somebody to do one or the other. I suppose - if your review is an exact reflection of the movie in all it's cringe-worthy language, then good job. Honestly, I read this site every day in my reader, and look forward to all that you share - this was the first time I literally scrunched my face while I read a review. No doubt, during the rest of it, I smiled - as I'm prone to do with poorly reviewed films. Midnightlight - I don't regularly rip on the reviews; I just outrightly cringed while reading this one. I enjoy FirstShowing.net a lot - I turn a lot of my friends to it who are interested in movies. I read the reviews and appreciate Kevin's reviews, and as people usually do, agree or disagree with them. I'm just stating that to me, some of these words hit me the wrong way - perhaps it's just me personally. I cringed. I love this site. And I don't think that calling out someone else's opinion (which I respect) is that unaligned with calling out my own. What's wrong with differences? Opinion vs. opinion? Am I to agree with every review here? Do you? Do you agree with every single review that was posted here? Do you love all of them? Because if you don't, take your own advice, and go to another bloody page. Love, Jessica Jerk Off
Jessica Maria on Jan 9, 2009
in exactly a few years,you'll look back at the dark knight and go "meh,it was ok"
twispious on Jan 10, 2009
i meant a year.heh
twispious on Jan 10, 2009
The only reason i wasn't pissed at watching this garbage was 1) it was free and 2) Odette Yustman's got a sweet ass
Herb on Jan 10, 2009
Ill just wait and see it myself as lets face it if I didnt go and see any of the films you so called movie experts say is shite then I would miss out on some real gems. You people seem to forget that the universe seen fit to make us all different so what might be tripe in someones opinion might actually be great in someone elses. Peace brothers and sisters
Dar-El on Jan 10, 2009
Sleeper hit. But 'er butt's cute.
Jimbo Slims on Jan 10, 2009
This movie is a terrible piece of shit, avoid at all costs. Your review was right on.
LINKFX on Jan 10, 2009
You forgot this zinger. The Unborn would have been better UNmade. I expected a lot more and the story behind it was promising but then it turned into a complete mess.
Ryan on Jan 10, 2009
Should've known this was a stinker since the poster had to resort to showing tail.
MCab on Jan 10, 2009
ahh, now we start seeing the over-ratedness of the actual plot points of TDK.
jimmy on Jan 11, 2009
***Warning Spoiler*** I am sorry to those who haven't seen the movie yet, but I couldn't let the obvious slide. Although I agree that the movie was not that great; this review is inaccurate. The "dead boy" was actually her great uncle. Furthermore, she did not read the book to get the information needed to defend herself against the dybbuk, it was her grandmother that told her. Lastly, she did not demand a "Catholic exorcism". She refuted an Episcopal exorcism. She was Jewish, not Catholic.
Will on Jan 12, 2009
You sure as hell ran away with the jokes involving the title! I guess I'll take your word for it (this review) Sucks that the trailer is better than the content
Jaf on Jan 12, 2009
Despite what everyones saying, I still wanna see it.
Richard on Jan 12, 2009
# 21... i agree. come on its a new year guys and gals. and cheap thrills like this MIGHT be still make great movies look even better. so what if its not the next gran torino or slumdog millionaire. i hated the ring and grudge....this looks better IMO.
buzali on Jan 14, 2009
I just saw this movie because I usually like horror flicks even if they are cheezy. This movie, however, is completely fucking horrible. The plot makes NO sense, the acting is bad, all the monsters heads are for some reason turned upside down, and for shits and giggles... nazis are thrown in. I don't know if there are enough adjectives to explain how bad this movie is. This movie, for me, ranks in my top 5 worst movies I've sat through. Leslie Nielsen's Dracula is still #1.
Rob on Jan 15, 2009
I think I'll wait for the "It's Alive" remake.
Eric on Jan 23, 2009
Wow 🙂 go ASS!! i dont know about the film i have only seen the trailer and looks to be ok but that ass is topss in my book 🙂 only for that scene i will watch it thrice..... well with such a poster for a horror movie i couldnt write anything else 😀 i think i have to watch the flick to have an opinion (ok i gotta admit i will try hard to look past the cheeks since from all the reviews those are the only good things in this one, we ll see :P)
burak "D'aequitas" on Feb 9, 2009
Jessica Maria you are a sweet hearted person and I think you really like, Kevin he is a fantastic review director. I just watched "The Unborn" and it was really a good movie 3 stars I give it. Herb, Odette Yustman's ass is not for sale and stop lusting after my woman perv no offense. Odette Yustman I have had a major crush on since, I first noticed, her in "Cloverfield back in 2008. When, I saw her in the hotel room with her on-screen boyfriend Michael Stahl-David (Robert Hawkins) I just cringed with infatuative excitement. Odette has a boyfriend in real life after she denounced her engagement to then boyfriend Trevor Wright. Anyway, She was also in Transformers back in 2007 as The sexy Socialite Worker who owned the sexy black Cadillac Escalade and said, something obnoxious and stuck up about Shia Labeouf's Sam Witwicky character as he was fighting to protect the Offspar Cube from Megatron. Odette I also saw in Kindergarten Cop as the spanish speaking princess and she is a real life fluent spanish speaker I read her bio gushy crushy M. Bison. I also saw her in South Beach but, no October Road I only saw a video or two and images of her in the show. South Beach she was sexy and girlfriend material in that and I have to admit that I am in infatuative love with Odette Yustman. Jessica Maria my real name is Kevin Clay, Jr. but, I am using M. Bison you know the dictator character icon from Street Fighter. BTW, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-li comes out this friday and Neal McDonough will take over the role of M. Bison from the late great Golden Globe icon actor Raul Julia. Raul Julia was a big insperation to me I met a nephew of his on youtube and he told me the only memory he has was a picture of Raul's nephew as a baby I wanted to cry after reading that comment. Jessica Maria I love you for you warm hearted personality and attitude and I have three special ladies in my heart Hayden Panettiere, Odette Yustman and Leelee Sobieski who you know from Deep Impact, Never Been Kissed, The Glass House, Jungle2Jungle, Joy Ride and many others. I recently saw her in 88 Minutes with Al Pacino and Neal McDonough as Lauren Douglas but, what surprised me was she turned out to be Neal McDonough's copycat serial killer attorney Lydia Doherty. Anyway, good or evil Leelee is a beautiful woman and only five years younger than me. Love you Leelee. Jessica keep doing what you do and that is liking Kevin. Hey!!! I'm Kevin too and you can like me all you like. Bye!!! Princess guys stop lusting after Odette like that she is a grown woman and is educated leave those fantasies with girls that think like teenagers.
M. Bison on Feb 24, 2009
I actually thought that the overall story was pretty decent. I was not all that impressed with the acting.
Sport events on Sep 17, 2009
I am usually a huge fan of horror films, but was gravely disappointed with this one. The plat seemed to be very flaky, and contained no concrete lines. It seemed very hard to follow for me.
Artificial Trees on Sep 29, 2009
Artificial Trees, You are entitled to your opinions of "The Unborn" horror film that came out January 9, 2009 with Meagan Good, Gary Oldman, Idris Elba and Odette Yustman. Odette, and Meagan were my favorite actresses in this movie and I can say the same thing for Gary Oldman and Idris Elba. I watched, The Unborn on Movie6.net when it was an available movie website and I thought Odette's performance was great in the film. She, was really in her character as Casey Beldon a college student who didn't know what she has a twin younger brother who died and she thought he was really there watching her. It, was really a demonic spirit in the form of her late twin brother who died at birth I believe and now the evil spirit who impersonated her real baby brother and was planning on taking Odette's body as his new life. Artificial Trees maybe, you enjoyed, Odette Yustman in Transformers and Cloverfield which, was a horror/sci-fi monster action-adventure movie I think that was alot better for Odette. I did like the horror special effect sequences in The Unborn like the scene she's at the club with her boyfriend and she goes to the ladies restroom and see's these horrible bug looking things in the bathroom with her.
Kevin on Sep 29, 2009
Yeah right, this movie shouldn't even be that scary, it should only freak people out thats all, cause what it does is it shows some demon kid who is like possessed & freaks people out the wake he stalks the girl or something. I mean if it was based on a True Story, ok, other then that, it should freak people out, not scare them to death .
Commercial deep fryer on Oct 14, 2009
Commercial deep fryer, You are entitled to feel that "The Unborn" didn't deliver as some hoped I saw this movie on Movie6.net and it was really scary. The demon that imitated Odette Yustman's character Casey Beldon looked exactly like her in the movie. Casey Beldon had a twin brother who actually died and the evil spirit was mistaken for being the spirit of her late brother. The demon spirit was after Odette because it wanted her body to be Unborn in someone who was already born as an adult.!!! This, kind of reminded me of Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger role in the fifth Nightmare On Elm Street film called, The Dream Child. Freddy posses a pregnant woman's womb and it was believed that the child was hers.!!!
Kevin on Oct 14, 2009
I agree with Artificial Trees, this movie left a lot to be desired. In addition to being flaky it seemed to be a budget film. I felt like I was watching a recent Friday the 13th.
artificial plants on Jul 9, 2010
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