2/10/09

Review: The Unborn (2009)


Looking for a lame version of The Exorcist with a Jewish exorcism instead of a Catholic one, and Gary Oldman? Look no further. Despite some interesting visuals and competent jump-scare moments, The Unborn is just that and not much more.

I actually really liked a lot of the imagery in this film. The crazy dogs, the mirrors, the very dream-like dream sequences, changing eye colors and even the done-to-death pale scary kid are all well done and fit together. But it's a pretty paint-by-numbers effort.

Odette Yustman of the much-superior Cloverfield stars as Casey Beldon, a young woman whose dreams begin to be haunted by strange creatures and the aforementioned pale scary kid, who, we know from the title, is Casey's unborn twin. Equally troubling to Casey, her mother died in an insane asylum after similar events happened to her.

Casey's boyfriend Mark (Cam Gigandet), best friend Romy (Meagan Good, playing high above the level of the film), a long-lost relative and Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman, playing at around the level of the film), once they get over thinking she's nuts, try everything they can think of to help. Romy is particularly entertaining in the film. It's not just that her dialogue is stupid, it's that she plays it with enthusiasm and no irony. She's very funny in the film, and Good should get some better parts.

The film is full of smack-your-head obviousness, as different characters continually breathlessly announce things we knew from the title and the opening sequence. There's plenty of folderol or whosawhatsis, too, including a long, pointless narration about the Nazi origin of the film's title specter, and the prevalence of twins in Casey's family.

There could be endless possibilities for explaining the haunting which would have been more interesting and less rote, and might have provided more opportunities to unify the story visually and leave a little mystery, but alas, this is not to be.

The exorcism itself is pretty messy as it is presented. It takes place in a weird abandoned church or synagogue which is very complicatedly presenting, but not very interesting or related to anything else. It ends with a long, anti-climactic chase scene and a teaser ending which does not make the viewer long for a sequel.

Gary Oldman is largely wasted. He provides instant credibility for any film character, but this fades as we realize his character won't have much to do, or much to do that justifies hiring Gary Oldman.

If you have to see one cheap "Un-" horror flick right now, I recommend Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, for the combat scenes. The Uninvited is slightly better overall, mostly for the performances of the actors, but the ending kind of ruins it, whereas the ending of Lycans makes it worth seeing, much more than the beginning or the middle. The Unborn bleeds momentum all along the way.

Alex
The Magic of the Movies

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