David Goyer has been involved in some brilliant films in his time; sadly, The Unborn is not one of them. It’s hard to believe that the man responsible for films such as The Dark Knight could be affiliated with The Unborn, but at least we can see that he made the most out of what he had to work with. The film isn’t helped by the poorly structured story nor does the acting do it any favours, although it does play with some very interesting religious concepts and supernatural phenomenons.
The leading lady in the film is Casey Beldon (played by Odette Yustman) and is based around her experience with a demon from the Jewish faith that seeks re-entry into the human world, otherwise known as a Dybbuk. Casey is haunted, first of all, by a dream of a young boy (Ethan Cutkosky) and things begin to get stranger for the young college student when she gets hit in the eye with a mirror whilst babysitting and as a result the pigmentation in her cornea begins to change. Casey then begins to see the boy from her dreams everywhere and also starts having some intense hallucinations. Casey soon finds out that she was a twin and that her brother died in the womb and becomes convinced that she is being haunted by her unborn brother. The further Casey and her accomplices investigate what is going on, the more people begin to die, so she seeks help from a Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) and decides to fight back with the only weapon they have, an exorcism.
David Goyer certainly comes up with some brilliant concepts, although when it comes to portraying these concepts through film he seems to struggle, especially when it comes to dealing with the supernatural. The Unborn is not much of a psychological thriller and is more focused on making you jump rather than actually scared. The effects and the imagery used to attempt to provoke fear seemed to do a better job at provoking laughter and, furthermore, disappointment. The film almost seemed like a backwards step when it comes to visual effects. Whilst some of the stylistic attributes are laughable, it’s also a shame because the film had a lot of potential had it not been stuck at a PG-13 rating, which could have been realised from the beginning had Goyer taken a look at some of the other films of that nature.
The acting was one of my biggest problems with The Unborn as Goyer has chosen some great actors and decided to give them the least screen time whilst giving the amateurs preference. Yustman also needs to learn to relax on screen as, in all the scenes she is in, she has her shoulders pushed back and arms tensed to a far too noticeable degree. Had the characters been given more depth it may have been possible for the actors to have more freedom to really create their roles, but since the film is so heavily focused on the Dybbuk, the characters are very generic and fail to add any depth to the story.
Sadly, Goyer doesn’t seem to know how to handle a horror film by taking the easy route to shock rather than instil fear. The only surprises that came from The Unborn were how many different faults it had and the rest was just hopelessly predictable. The idea of the possessed child has been slightly overdone now too, with films like The Exorcist and all the Omen films etc. It’s about time some new concepts were introduced to keep the horror genre fresh. If you like faltering movies then this is a must see.