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The Unborn

Movie title: The unborn (2009)
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: A young woman is haunted by a demon wanting to be born.
Spoilers ahead: No

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I am disappointed in The Unborn, another horror movie-turned-teen flick for a boring Friday or Saturday night. If you’re still in high school and you can drive, take your date to the theatre, hold him/her close, and fulfill the wishes of quick box office cash-flow-obsessed Hollywood producers by seeing this. They’ll love you for it!

And tell me this; when will directors get tired of having faces pop out and scream? It keeps happening…and happening and happening. A kid with too much makeup on pops out of a medicine cabinet and spooks us. How many times have we seen the pop-out-and-scream maneuver? Maybe a thousand times? Two thousand? Well, we’ve seen it too many, and it was scary only the first time or two. Now we’re ready for something new, something better than cheap scares made for a Honda Civic-full of kids on the weekends.

The dialogue leaves some to be desired and the rest is the usual ghost story stuff, like bugs appearing from out of nowhere, mysterious tapping sounds on mirrors that fade when someone checks on them, and omens being seen in the form of dogs, masks, and baby gloves while jogging. Why? Because a demon wants to be born.

It missed out on making heaven, having lived a previous life. It now floats around on earth looking to take a new body (why God didn’t just send it to Hell I would like to know, but I guess I won’t have that luxury). It finds a body in the days when the Nazis experimented on captured Jews during the Holocaust. Their purpose was to turn brown eyes into blue ones when a boy they were experimenting on dies. The demon takes the body, but for some reason loses it and spends its existence trying to claim a new body, one from the womb of a grandmother, a mother, and her daughter. The daughter is the star of the show as Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman).

She’s seeing things, having dreams. As the demon (a mythological dybbuk) keeps stupidly stating over and over again, it wants to be born. Rather than just shutting up and being born already like any other demon who wanted to be born, or else claiming the body of a weak-willed person, like a drug-addict or invalid, this demon makes generations of women miserable by haunting them to the point of driving them insane and causing them to commit suicide. Oh, and he turns their eyes white too! Why risk exorcism, stupid demon? Just get born and get it over with!

A neighborhood kid is acting weird, and then a baby who looks at a mirror dies, which brings us to the next problem; namely, if the demon can take hold of the body of a young boy who died during the Holocaust, and the demon wants a body, why not possess the body of a neighbor’s infant who died in his sleep (apparently at the behest of the demon)? Fairly big plot-hole? I think so. And I am still curious to find out why animals (and in one case, an old man in a nursing home) have their heads turned upside-down? Guess I'll never know.

The movie’s use of the played-out premise of mirrors being a doorway to the spirit world appears to be a rip-off of the 2008 film Mirrors. As in that one, mirrors are broken to keep away demons. Another example of the similarities between the films is instant possession of the unwilling. If you’re a dybbuk and that strong, why care about being born? Just pick a human of your choice and live life to the fullest.

Amidst an annoying element of girl-talk and her boyfriend, Casey has support. To make the plot more interesting, Casey has a token superstitious friend who’s into all sorts of superstitious claptrap. And I suppose that’s good because Casey is up against a very powerful demon. The thing is so powerful that as in most horror movies, exorcisms only get the crud kicked out of the priests, and the evil force can take control over most anyone in the circle it wants to. Since this can happen so easily in the world of horror movies, one would think it would happen often enough for their to be networks of spiritualists on how to deal with it. But their aren’t, so no one believes anything supernatural is happening before it is too late. Of course, the super power level of demons in exorcist-type movies of this sort is to appeal to the theatrically religious who believe in it. That’s the case here.

It is worth saying, however, that The Unborn was a little scary, due in part to excellent music selection and lighting that manufactured great suspense, making what would have been a slow teen horror flick suspenseful enough to watch (if you can tolerate everything else). The growing white blemishes to the eyes was an effectively creepy element, and it has got to be a fact that scary movies where bodily changes are undergone prove scarier than those without. High school teen thrillers I have little patience with, and that’s what we have here. I say, save your money.

(JH)

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Director: David S. Goyer
Starring: Odette Yustman “Casey Beldon,” Gary Oldman “Rabbi Sendak,” Meagan Good “Romy,” Cam Gigandet “Mark Hardigan,” Idris Elba “Arthur Wyndham,” Jane Alexander “Sofi Kozma,” Atticus Shaffer “Matty Newton,” James Remar “Gordon Beldon,” Carla Gugino “Janet Beldon,” C.S. Lee “Dr. Lester Caldwell,” Michael Sassone “Eli Walker,” Ethan Cutkosky “Barto”
Genre: Horror

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