My exposure to The Unborn was on Twitter a few months ago where I read a thread of people discussing the most infamous movie posters that are blatant in their objectification of women. I didn’t research the movie but the image of the taut female booty in white cotton panties remained in my mind.
Flash forward to a few nights ago I saw a thumbnail for The Unborn mixed in with several other horror movies and the memory of the movie poster flashed before my perverted eyes. That thread that I read with intentions of internally ridiculing the harmful marketing strategy of the movie industry back fired. The only reason my eyes didn’t gloss over the boring thumbnail for the movie on Netflix is a result of my primal desire to stare at half naked women.
I haven’t actually made a list but if I did, The Unborn would be in my top 15 worst movies I have ever seen. There are definitely worse movies than The Unborn out there, but it had a budget, a surprisingly good cast, and the film makers actually tried to make a scary movie but still failed harder than I did on my last diet. I didn’t have the discipline or patience to endure this movie in one sitting, I paused it with about 40 minutes remaining and finished it the next day.
David S. Goyer directed this movie in 2009 after a long and successful career in Hollywood. He is mainly a writer penning the screen plays for major movies like the Blade trilogy, Batman Begins, and the two most recent Superman movies. Every movie he has directed (and most of what he has written on his own) have been widely panned. The Unborn is no exception.
The scantily clad actress on the cover of the poster is Odette Yustman (Cloverfield). She isn’t a great actress but she has enough skill to play the lead role of a simple horror film. The quality of the supporting actors shocked me as each one appeared on screen. James Remar, Gary Oldman, and Idris Elba are the much superior actors supporting the likes of Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, and Cam Gigandet. Even the eye doctor is played by the recognizable face of C.S. Lee who played Masuka in Dexter.
As its name suggest, the plot of The Unborn is driven by the death of Casey’s (Odette Yutsman) twin brother in the womb. I am very flexible when it comes to horror movies plots as they often enter the realm of stupidity. Even a stupid plot, if done well, can make a good movie. The plot for The Unborn is probably the dumbest one I have ever seen (with the qualifier that is movie is trying to be free of parody and has big names behind it).
During WWII the Nazi’s conducted immoral experiments on twins at Auschwitz in an attempt to uncover the mystery of their genes. One set of twins they experimented on was Casey’s grandmother and her brother. During the experiments they killed the boy whom became a portal for a dybbuk (a Jewish demon) and rose back to life causing all kinds of problems. Casey’s grandmother killed her undead brother and the dybbuk has haunted the family ever since.
Why did the dybbuk use the dead twin boy as a portal to the real world? Well they normally use mirrors, but what is an identical twin but not a mirror of another person? Twins are mirrors, therefore they are vulnerable to being infested by Jewish demons.
The dybbuk in this movie constantly possess little kids, dogs, and other humans, turning their heads upside down. Every fright in this movie is a cheap jump scare. Not once was tension built through good direction, music, or setting. Instead ugly little kids and dogs provided jump scares as reflections in mirrors or riding down the busy street on big wheels.
One underlying theme that was present throughout the movie is the color blue. The color appears everywhere and symbolizes the twin brother that Casey strangled to death with her umbilical cord in the womb.
Eyes also play a role in the film, changing color when a person become possessed. As the movie progressed, Casey’s eyes became more blue and fucked up telling the viewer the spirit is forming a stronger hold on her. Instead of showing the viewer the change in her eyes through good direction, the viewer was told through forced unnatural dialogue. Show, don’t tell.
After a sloppy exorcism that kills everyone Casey cares for, she learns that she is pregnant, with twins revealing the reason she was haunted.
The exorcism attack also featured mildly racist elements. As the dybbuk got stronger and possessed more people to attack Casey, it reached its peak strength when it possess Idris Elba. So the visual representation for the growing strength of the spirit was an angry powerful black man? Why else would they choose a black actor for that role?
I know I spoiled this movie but it doesn’t matter. This is one of those movies that you seek out to watch because it is so bad, not because you want to be scared or thrilled.