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a horror film written by David Goyer (2009)

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  • Jul 13, 2009

David S. Goyer had written the first two “Blade” films and co-wrote “Batman Begins” with Christopher Nolan so I excused him for his lackluster directorial efforts in “Blade Trinity” and “the Invisible”. Now that was before I found out that Goyer is also responsible for the script in “Kickboxer 2: the Road Back“. Certainly, one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to think that Goyer is a either a hit or a miss after his less than stellar resume. He has written and directed his latest horror film “The UNBORN”, and once again, I wonder as to what happened to the talent displayed in the first two “Blade” films?
Casey (sexy Odette Yustman) is experiencing several bizarre and unsettling dreams. What’s more casey had began to experience hallucinations and she had come to believe that a child named “jumby” is a guise for a demonic force called the ‘Dyubbuk’ and that malevolent spirit is after her. Casey traces the cause of the visions through the clues left behind by her dead mother (Carla Gugino) and had found that she is also the grandchild of a holocaust survivor, Sofi (Jane Alexander). Sofi had experienced unfathomable experiences as a child during the holocaust and she believes that the ‘Dyubbuk’ is after Casey. The demonic force slowly becomes more powerful as people around Casey begin to die. Now it is up to her along with her boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) to seek the help of Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) to exorcise the ‘dyubbuk’ and send it back to where it belongs….

                          Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon and Cam Gigandet as Mark Hardigan in "The Unborn."

                         Ethan Cutkosky as Barto and Idris Elba as Father Arthur Wyndham in "The Unborn."
“The Unborn” could have easily been mistaken for a remake of an Asian horror film; a creepy child--check, a pale-faced ghost--check, a family curse--check, a malevolent spirit--check. Yes, “The Unborn” has all the makings of a simple ghost story and David Goyer does try to go for a different route and adds several elements of Jewish mysticism such as the Kabbalah, family curses and even Nazi experimentation. The film does attempt to cover a lot of ground, that results in the film becoming a little too unfocused. Goyer’s skills as a director isn’t finely honed enough to pull off such an ambition and he is left a little lost within his own writing. I do commend the fact that Hollywood horror has tried to do something different in the film, rather than resorting to another remake; it also attempts to bring certain exorcism procedures into exposition than resorting to the usual Catholic overtones.

                        Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon and Cam Gigandet as Mark Hardigan in "The Unborn."

                       Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon and Atticus Shaffer as Matty Newton in "The Unborn."
The problems with “The Unborn” are the fact that it throws in too many ideas but never really uses one as its central theme. What results is a screenplay full of gaping plot holes and too many variables that barely gets fleshed out. It also shows Casey trying to battle the forces of evil that feels like a minor genre implementation that ends up with the script becoming convoluted. It’s not that the film made no effort to explain everything, it actually does but it ends up spending too much time trying to make sense of each of its plot elements that the film loses any of the ‘creep-out’ touches it may have achieved.
The film is also co-produced by Michael Bay so expect a very visual experience that is a rehearsed practice of cheap and “jump” scares. The special effects do look very good and the film itself looks very pretty. There are a number of freaky images such as an old man crawling around distorting his own body, facial features are changed into something more feral and scary, convulsions and creepy mirrors--the film does have its moments, but the problem is the scare factor feels a little too cheap. The film suffers from visual overload, it is loud (not in a literary sense) with too much style that it forgot to become scary. Characterization is also a little too weak, and the viewer would have no time to get attached to its characters. Some may like the “in-your-face-no-nonsense” type of storytelling, but in a horror film, caring for the characters is essential. Goyer forgot to make the audience settle into his screenplay.

                       Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon in "The Unborn."

                      Gary Oldman as Rabbi Sendak and Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon in "The Unborn."

                     Michael Sassone as Eli Walker in "The Unborn."

Goyer also leaves some grand behavioral missteps as with the character of Casey’s friend Romy (Meagan Good); for someone who talks about believing in the occult, she sure spends an awful lot of time trying to convince Casey otherwise. He also leaves the subplot with Casey’s child-stalker hanging out to dry and Casey’s dad is curiously nowhere to be found amid the entire crisis (a simple phone call would’ve sufficed). Instead, the direction obsesses in showing a pale-faced deformed dog, more visual nightmares and an upside down senior citizen than developing the script. The acting is also a mixed bag and given the little elements the cast had to work with, I can‘t really judge their acting abilities. Although I really liked the sight of Odette Yustman in her small shirt and panties, plus I did somewhat enjoy the fact that Gary Oldman managed to kick some dyubbuk butt.
“The Unborn” throws in so much substance than it actually really needs. It resulted with the storytelling becoming a little too convoluted and the special effects just taking over its entirety that it felt very superficial. While it does have some freaky images, they were all pretty routine and it offers nothing methodical that may make a scene really stand out--it all seems like a rehearsed exercise. The film is a grand exhibit of too much style and substance that never went anywhere. But I am pretty sure that “The Unborn” may find an audience, but hardcore horror fans are better off staying away. At least, Odette Yustman is very hot.
Rent it. [2 Stars]

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July 14, 2009
I like the fact that they tried to bring something new into the horror genre but it seems that in the end it just collapsed into a standard special effects show for ADHD crowd. I hate "jump scares" too. It shows lack of imagination.
July 15, 2009
I know what you mean, Karen. Goyer tried to do something original, but unfortunately, his skills as a storyteller isn't honed enough to take on a project with this much subplots and substance. If this was longer, maybe it might have been able to put together a better film. I hate 'jump' scares and don't really care much for CGI when it comes to horror. They make the horror film seem too cheap.
July 15, 2009
And like most things in Hollywood it probably did pass through many hands, either officially or unofficially, before it saw the light of day and isn't whatever it started out to be.
July 13, 2009
You forgot to mention that he co-wrote the awesome sci-fi flick, Dark City. Awesome review and I too have mixed feelings about Goyer's talents. Certainly he's a great screen writer, but it seems that the more control he has over a film project the worse the film is in the end.
July 14, 2009
I agree. Hm, I did forget to mention that he co-wrote "Dark City" and he was a consultant for "The Dark Knight" according to its promos. I guess some guys are talented screen writers but they suck as directors; Frank Miller may also be one...

You know the director of the fantastic "Dark City" also did "Knowing" right?
July 14, 2009
And some guys are great directors but suck as writers, like Sam Raimi.
July 15, 2009
Wait, Alex Proyas directed "Knowing"? That's weird. I thought maybe he had died or something. First he did the very cool "The Crow" in 1994, then "Dark City" in 1998, and then "Riverworld" in 2004, and I haven't seen his name in the credits of a film since.
July 16, 2009
Nope. Proyas is very much alive. I reviewed "Knowing" right down on this page. I loved "The Crow"...you know it's going to be remade? I may just review the original with Brandon Lee. I also loved "Dark City" but I have forgotten about Riverworld, I need to rewatch that...
July 17, 2009
A remake of "The Crow"? Damn, the film's only 15 years old. Shouldn't they at least wait another 5. They're probably only doing it because it's becoming a new trend to restart a franchise after a slew of lame sequels (see the "Batman", "Star Trek", and "James Bond" films for examples). What's next, a remake of "Star Wars"?
More The Unborn reviews
review by . April 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****     To its credit, "The Unborn" is some of the best anti-fun you'll have with a horror movie in quite some time. While a lot of horror movies are bad, few (in 2009, especially) are so tame, bleak, and art-less as this one here. It's a joyless "thrill-ride" about demons, Judaism, and how actors can be put in such uncomfortable positions; ones which they were not born to be in. There's problems on every end of this film, from the writing, to the characters, to the …
review by . January 18, 2009
The Unborn (theatrical release) 2009
The famed writer of Dark Knight, David Goyer, brings us a film with an interesting plot...The Unborn. Though, as good as The Dark Knight was...The Unborn is bad. Maybe he was trying to balance the scales...create one great movie and one bad movie...I don't know. What I do know is that the newest film to fall under the genre "horror", starring Odette Yustman and Gary Oldman, is a flop. Casey Beldon is a college student living with her father and struggling to deal with the loss of her mother - after …
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About this movie


  • Opened January 9, 2009 | Runtime:1 hr. 28 min.
  • PG-13
    intense sequences of violence and terror, disturbing images, thematic material and language including some sexual refernces
  • Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) hated her mother for leaving her as a child. But when inexplicable things start to happen, Casey begins to understand why she left. Plagued by merciless dreams and a tortured ghost that haunts her waking hours, she must turn to the only spiritual advisor, Sendak (Gary Oldman), who can make it stop. With Sendak’s help, Casey uncovers the source of a family curse dating back to Nazi Germany—a creature with the ability to inhabit anyone or anything that is getting stronger with each possession. With the curse unleashed, her only chance at survival is to shut a doorway from beyond our world that has been pried open by someone who was never born.
  • Cast: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Cam Gigandet, Meagan Good, James Remar

  • Director: David S. Goyer
  • Genres: ThrillerSupernatural Thriller
  • Poster
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    DVD Release Date: July 7, 2009
    Runtime: 88 minutes
    Studio: Universal Studios

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