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Blu-ray Review: The Unborn (2009)

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Sometimes, the younger generations miss seeing the real classics because, well, said movies are “old.” Well, good news, though, kids: you no longer have through boring psychological horror films about demons, devils and antichrists because Hollywood’s own antichrist, Michael Bay, has produced another steaming pile of shit called The Unborn. Yes, there’s no longer any need to watch The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Mephisto Waltz (1971) or even House (1986) for that matter. The Unborn blatantly rips off the best moments from all of those films and gives them to you in a fraction of the time. This movie is the Costco of supernatural thrillers. They’re buying ‘em at wholesale and passing the savings on to you, kiddies!

Chicago resident Casey (Odette Yustman) is a tall lanky brunette (this is a Michael Bay movie, after all) that discovers that she had a twin brother who died in the womb. Her mother died by suicide many years ago and her father (James Remar) is never there. That’s probably for the best, though, since his daughter is always parading around in her underwear (and frankly, that is only redeeming quality of the movie — even the film’s theatrical poster touched on that fact).

After being smacked upside the head with a mirror by the snot-nosed neighbor kid she was trying to babysit, Casey discovers she is more in tune with the spirit world. Now, Casey is haunted by a restless spirit that has chosen her to be its host. Or some such nonsense. It really doesn’t matter: the movie’s crap any way you look at it.

Sensing that he was probably a little too close to copyright infringement (hell, he couldn‘t even come up with an original title), writer/director David S. Goyer decided to leave all of that boring old Roman Catholicism antichrist crap out of this flick and opted to make The Unborn as a Jewish horror film. Instead of Satan’s baby, it’s an evil Dybbuk that’s hellbent (heh, get it?) on being born into this world (as to why that schmendrick would choose Chicago to be born in is anyone’s guess!).

Instead of Max Von Sydow as the wise old priest, The Unborn gives Gary Oldman a chance to ham it up some more as a doubtful rabbi (who teams up with his black Episcopalian priest friend to perform the film’s anti-climactic exorcism climax). Sadly, Gary isn’t in the movie as much as one would like him to be. A pity, too, since he’s the only other reason (apart from the numerous undie scenes) to see this movie — although you really shouldn’t see it, so just forget I said that.

As far as scares go, The Unborn goes with the amateur horror filmmaker trick of having something spooky happen every five or ten minutes. The formula goes like this: Casey walks around, talks to her friends, walks some more, looks in the mirror and *bam* — a fright pops up onscreen, complete with a scary orchestra hit. In lieu of there actually being something creepy to show you, a jump cut moves to something like a train passing by (complete with the same music cue). Repeat, gargle, rinse.

I would advise David S. Goyer to stick to his other works since he brought us Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but then I remember that he also wrote Jumper, the Blade series, and a couple of Van Damme films, too. So David, just stick to writing another Batman movie, OK? And don’t ask Akiva Goldsman for help, either. Or Michael Bay.

On Blu-ray, The Unborn looks great. The High Def 1080p VC-1 transfer has a sharp contrast and really brings out the colors — even if the movie’s color palate consists of blue, black, brown, and white. The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless 5.1 track is a real eye-opener (especially when you consider the fact that the movie will flat-out put your tired and bored ass to sleep) and there are optional English SDH subtitles. Additional soundtracks (DTS 5.1) and subtitles are in Spanish, Quebec French, the real French, and German (what, no Yiddish?).

The selection of special features for The Unborn is as bad as the movie, but it’s of no consequence anyhow. Several deleted scenes are offered up, as well as the option to watch the film in the original theatrical PG-13 version or the “unrated” edition. The “unrated” version is supposed to contain scenes that were “too shocking for theaters,” a tagline that emerges on every “unrated” release these days. Put simply, kids: the money-grabbing moviemaking whores that are gypping you into paying for these turkeys take out a few seconds of the movie’s already tame PG-13 “sex” and “violence” and then reinsert it for DVD and Blu-ray so you’ll think you’re getting more bang for your buck. In actuality, you’re falling twice for the “fool me once, shame on you” bit.

I do have to blame shame where shame is due here in the first place, though. The fact that filmmakers are stooping to make PG-13 horror (er, excuse me: thriller) films just so you can get in without your ID is offensive enough (taking all of the fun of sneaking in away in the process), but their constant need to release these “unrated” editions on home video side-by-side with the rated versions just to milk the cash cow is downright degrading to even an average public schooled teenager’s intelligence.

In case I forgot to say this, The Unborn sucks.  Even Count Floyd would have a hard time selling this one.  Personally, I can’t wait for Michael Bay’s upcoming Mormon antichrist film to hit theaters. It’s called Elder Smith’s New Baby, and the plot involves a frantic missionary whose belief is pushed to the limit when his most recent baby (from his third wife) is born with dark skin and a “666” on its ass. And if you found that insulting, try pitting your IQ against The Unborn. No, hold that thought — you shouldn’t see it. It’s just not worth it. Stick with The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary‘s Baby, The Mephisto Waltz or even Abby (1974) instead.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.