The ungood – The Unborn DVD review

The Unborn – Starring Odette Yustman, Cam Gigandet, Meagan Goode and Gary Oldman. Directed by David S. Goyer. Rated M for horror themes and infrequent coarse language. 87 mins. Available on DVD.

When it comes to horror films, I am extremely forgiving. Although it’s preferable, I don’t require a horror movie to have particularly good acting or dialogue to find it enjoyable. All I ask is that it give me a couple of scares, or at the very least be kind of creepy. The Unborn has no such courtesy. It is a cheap, limp, frightless horror film that conjures up as much terror as the thought of having accidentally left the iron on at home. But even that comparison is a slight to the unbridled horror of an appliance that will eventually turn itself off.

Odette Yustman stars as Casey, a young university student who is struck by visions of sinister children, lost mittens and dogs with upside down heads. While babysitting a particularly spooky young boy, she is told that ‘jumby wants to be born now’, in a manner that only spooky young actors can muster. Jumby is of course Casey’s late twin brother, strangled to death in utero by her own umbilical cord. He decides to exact his revenge on his sister in one of the cruelest ways – placing her at the center of a generic supernatural thriller.

This is the kind of horror film that is scary if you’ve never seen another horror film before. Or any movie with any kind of tension. Hell, this is the kind of horror film that is scary if all you have ever seen is Hannah Montana. I honestly cannot fathom who would find this movie chilling, and I say that will all due respect to 13-year-old girls around the world. Every supposed ‘shock’ in The Unborn is unearned; jump scares carefully formulated to make teenage girls intermittently throw their popcorn in the air and seek comfort in the arms of their boyfriends.

The acting is barely competent. Yustman, clearly troubled by the concept of embodying another character, really struggles to carry this film. She has boiled down her necessary facial expressions from “concerned” right down to “slightly more concerned”. She mercifully spends the majority of the film in her underwear, at least temporarily distracting us from the fact that we are expected to care about her fate at the movie’s climax.

What is most disappointing about The Unborn is the wasted cast. While teen heartthrobs Meagan Goode and Cam Gigandet add little to proceedings, there is a bevy of underutilised performers who would have provided a much more entertaining film if left to their own devices in an empty room with a camera. Gary Oldman stars as a Rabbi intent on helping out Casey with her demonic possession. Either Goldman owes a favour to writer/director David S. Goyer (who co-wrote the last two Batman films) or he too has been hit by the recent credit crunch. The rest of the film is a depressing parade of actors you wish would have had more sense. “Oh man, is that Dexter’s dad? And hey, that’s Carla Gugino! Except she doesn’t have any lines! Oh no, Stringer Bell! Not you too!”

The script is terrible. And I mean really awful. One character asks “Do you believe in ghosts?” and the other one says without pause “you know I do”, with the sincerity of someone saying they believe in gravity. The narrative plods along until you can barely take it. Clocking in just shy of 80 minutes, I shudder at the thought of David Goyer helming a two hour horror film. I honestly wonder if Goyer attempted to research the history of horror cinema, got to last year’s One Missed Call, and then called it quits. This weekend alone I watched Wes Craven’s banned exploitation flick The Last House on the Left and Dario Argento’s terrifying classic Inferno. I truly, truly recommend watching either of those instead of The Unborn. Or your wall. Just staring at your wall is also an acceptable alternative too.


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