At one point, near the end of The Unborn, a character says “I just want this to end,” or something similar. Had this happened about 30 minutes earlier, I would have completely agreed, because I wanted the movie to be finished. When it did happen, I sighed and then laughed, because I felt as if writer/director David S. Goyer was toying with my emotions at this point, taunting me with the exact thought I had earlier on.
The film begins with a dream sequence, in which Casey (Odette Yustman) is jogging around the block, when a creepy little kid follows her. And then the kid turns into a dog, and runs into the forest. She follows, and uncovers a fetus in a tube that was buried in the ground. Why? She wants to know too. When she wakes up, she phones her friend, Romy (Meagan Good), who is superstitious and keeps a book that tells you what your dreams mean. Since Casey is babysitting, she hears one of the children making noise, and ends up getting cut with a piece of mirror. Weird, eh?
Soon, her eyes begin changing colours, she begins hallucinating, and, because we are the only people who can see her doing this, nobody believes her. They think she’s crazy, and it’s entirely possible that she is. Her mother did commit suicide, after all. Casey heads to her grandmother (Jane Alexander), who initially lies and says that she doesn’t know of Casey’s mother, but phones her up later and tells her she does. Why she lied in the first place isn’t really explained.
Then the exposition starts, and doesn’t stop for a while. See, there’s this ghostlike thing, (or maybe it just is a ghost, I dunno), and it wants to come back to the world. It’s now haunting Casey because it eventually wants to take control of her or something. Really, it’s just an excuse to have a ghost haunt her, I think. There’s also something that happened while she was still in the womb, when her twin brother was suffocated with the umbilical cord. It kind of makes sense when the film’s explaining it to you, but honestly I’m not sure if it does looking at it retrospectively.
Because ghosts can be removed from your body with an exorcism, or so Casey believes, she heads to a rabbi (Gary Oldman), who tells her he may or may not be able to help her, and then doesn’t appear until the final scene of the film. Why Gary Oldman decided to take part in this project is beyond me.
What we get for most of the film is exposition-filled dialogue, jump scares and an incredibly silly production. It’s not all that entertaining, not even in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. I was more bored than I was involved, and I found myself just wanting it to end, just like one of the characters says. I don’t find jump scenes scary, and I dislike exposition in films like this. Do we need to know what convoluted reason the ghost is terrifying Casey? I don’t think so, and if we do need some reason, why did it have to be this one? Couldn’t it just be that her dead twin brother wants revenge, as it was her cord that strangled him? That makes more sense than what we got.
I’m still not sure about this ghosts motivations anyway. For most of the film, it takes over the body of a young boy named Matty (Atticus Shaffer). If it already has a body, and we’re told its primary motivation is to get back on Earth in living tissue, then why does it need hers specifically? Maybe I missed something, but to me, it makes more sense to pick the youngest possible victim so that you live the longest.
There’s a scene where the exorcism does take place, (in case you were worried that Gary Oldman wouldn’t get the chance to perform one), in which he and Youstman stand side by side, and it’s just sad seeing how outclassed she is by him. He actually seemed into it, there was fire in his eyes, and he was passionate. She seemed almost disconnected, and made no real attempt to show emotion, despite the fact that her character was supposed to be in emotional distress. Scenes like this further make me question why Gary Oldman would agree to this project.
When I think back on The Unborn, I can’t think of anything good about it. I wish I could, but I can’t recall a moment when I was entertained, or a time in which I thought “hey, this is a good movie.” It was all just terrible or average, with it never getting better than that. Actually, the first scene was okay. It wasn’t really related to anything, but if it was, and the entire movie was created in the atmosphere that the opening had, it might be worth watching.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. What we get instead is a bore of a horror film that doesn’t make much sense, has largely indifferent performances, and simply isn’t scary. I can forgive a lot of flaws in a horror movie if I’m actually scared, but this one just has a bunch of predictable jump scenes that actually detract from the atmosphere instead of using it to their advantage. It was like I was constantly being taken out of the (admittedly not all that enjoyable) experience because of the jump scenes, and they weren’t even startling in this case, as you could call them every time they were about to happen. There is almost nothing to like in this film, and I can’t think of anything worth praise.