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My coworker Shannon seems to be a horror movie aficionado. I’m fairly sure she has seen every horror movie Netflix has to offer. So when October comes around, I have come to rely on her for at least one solid recommendation. She seems to be a nice person so I always have to remind her first that I don’t necessarily want a fun movie, but want to MAKE FUN OF a movie because she always leads with something good, but once you get past that she can deliver the good stuff. Or the bad stuff. So she claimed today’s movie would be good to make fun of, but then I saw it was written and directed by David S. Goyer, who wrote the Nolan Batman trilogy and Dark City. This can’t be right! This is supposed to be a bad movie! Then I saw he also wrote Batman v. Superman and BOTH Ghost Rider movies. …This has potential… And if nothing else, the poster for the movie was mainly just a hot chick’s butt, so it’s got that going for it. This movie is The Unborn, written and directed by David S. Goyer, and starring Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Jane Alexander, James Remar, and Idris Elba.
A super-hot lady named Casey (Yustman) starts going crazy and having strange visions of dogs wearing masks and mittens. Then a little boy smashes a mirror on her face and makes her eye change color. Somehow, this leads her to find out she was to be a twin but her brother didn’t survive. She finds her Auschwitz survivor grandma (Alexander) who was also a twin, but Nazi’s made her brother into a babadook. …No wait, it’s a dybbuk. And that’s a Jewish demon, so her brother starts acting like a real dyb-bag until she kills him. The evil demon thingie wanted to be reborn as Casey’s brother but was instead unborn. Now it’s after her.
Shannon comes through again! I wouldn’t say this was necessarily a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t good. I wasn’t pained by watching it, but I feel like I spent most of it fairly confused. The movie contained a lot of superstitions that it just acted like everyone knew and were totally normal. Did you know that newborns aren’t supposed to see their own reflections or they’ll die? Yeah, me neither. Nor, I assume, did millions of parents who don’t go around smashing every mirror in their house when they get the plus sign on that pregnancy test. Want to know what else isn’t a thing? The name “Jumby.” Right before he smashes Casey in the face with a mirror, the creepy little kid tells her that “Jumby wants to be born now.” I would then say that I hope that “Jumby” is never born because he won’t last long with a name like that. And then Casey finds out that that’s the nickname her parents gave her twin brother and she somehow didn’t stop in the middle of her freak out to say, “I can’t believe you never told me I had a twin…wait…Jumby? Did he die in utero because of all the drugs you guys were doing during the pregnancy to come up with that name?” And what sort of drugs was her grandma on when she said, “What is a twin but another kind of mirror?” …Well, grandma, a twin is lots of things. A person. One that shares a lot of your genetic code. Of all the things a twin could be, a reflective piece of glass would not make my list. I kind of get what you’re saying because they may look alike, but not all twins do look alike and even the ones that do are not mirrors. But I guess old grandma didn’t get herself in an old folk’s home by having full control of her faculties. Anyway, the movie ends with an exorcism that goes poorly. The dybbuk shows up and starts slinging people around the room like a little hurricane. At this point, I agree with Casey when she says they have to finish the ceremony. I don’t really understand her luck that the first piece of paper she grabbed at her feet as the book was blowing around the room just happened to be the page she needed. This movie wouldn’t have happened if she was prone to such good fortune.
As always, a horror movie not making a lot of sense isn’t my top concern so long as they can make that up by being scary. Unfortunately, this movie didn’t really do that either. Mostly clichés and jump scares. I guess I should’ve guessed it would be cliché from the thumbnail, but I kept getting distracted by Odette Yustman’s butt and couldn’t see the rest of the picture. But she was standing in front of a bathroom vanity mirror that had her reflection and another mirror… sorry, her twin (I get those confused all the time). But isn’t the bathroom vanity mirror in a horror movie one of the most played out and cliché things ever at this point? You know exactly what they’re going to do with it eventually so the only suspense involved with it is wondering when. I guess you could say they broke from cliché a little in the movie in that the black friend of Casey was not the first one to die, but I also felt no remorse for her when she did. She’s supposed to be really superstitious but then she’s at home all alone and the power goes off and she hears a knock at the door but can’t see anyone when she looks outside so she opens the damned door? She deserved to get stabbed by that little kid for that. Also, you can’t take a little kid in a fight? Maybe she’s just too nice, but I wish that little kid would try to stab me. I would whoop that ass so hard! Even if he did stab me in the gut first, I still think I could lay a beating on a little kid. One thing I would say for this movie in the scares department is a good amount of the creatures they had were pretty creepy. The dog with the mask or its head turned upside down and the old man later were both pretty well done. And then I also have a burning question that this movie left me with: if an infant dies do the paramedics really bring in the full-sized human stretcher to bring it out? I’m not suggesting they use a shoe box or something, but it seems like a waste of space.
The performances were pretty hit-and-miss in this movie. The most surprising ones were Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino. Not because they put on their career-defining, tour-de-force performances in this movie by a long shot, but more that they agreed to do the movie AND seemed to actually give about 10% more effort than the paycheck was probably worth. Odette Yustman was the star of the movie in that she got the most screen time, and she did exactly what she needed to. She was hot, she walked around in her underwear and made sure no one left this movie without knowing she has a nice butt. And she screamed occasionally. Otherwise, her performance and a lot of the other ones in the movie were good sometimes and very bad on others. She probably did about as good as she could with the material, I suppose. I mean, her character was written to make a really big deal about getting hit in the face by a kid with a mirror when talking to her friends, but never really bothered to bring up that she hatched an icky-looking bug out of an egg that morning. I mean, shitty little kids hit people with things all the time. It’s not every day that something other than egg comes out of an egg. I also found it curious how profusely she thanked her boyfriend for accompanying her to the doctor. She only had a minor scratch on her face really, but she WAS hit in the face so hard with a mirror that her eye was changing color. Feels like going to the doctor with her would just be part of being a concerned boyfriend. As I mentioned before, I did not get why she was so freaked out that she had a twin that died in utero. Granted, it wouldn’t be great that the parents never thought to mention it, but I still feel like my reaction as an adult to receiving that information would be more along the lines of, “Oh…that’s interesting, I guess…” I also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that losing this twin was the reason my mom killed herself. I mean, it was probably quite the bummer at first, but this movie showed that the mom killed herself when Casey was at least 9 or 10. Seems like she probably would’ve moved past that by then. I would at least give this movie credit that it seemed to write the character of the super-hot chick well on a couple of occasions. Like when she took that book to Gary Oldman and asked if he could translate it for her. …You want me to translate a thousand page religious manuscript for you? “Could you? That’d be great! You’re such a sweetheart!” That seems like a hot chick thing to do. …I’d probably have done it for her too… It also seems like a hot chick thing to do that when she’s told what to do to take the dybbuk’s power away, she only half-asses it. Your grandma told you to break the mirrors in your house, burn the pieces, and bury them. Why do all the mirrors in your house still have shards around the edges and pieces in a pile under them on the mantle? Good enough, eh?
The Unborn was not particularly well-written and didn’t often stand up to logic, the performances were pretty hit-and-miss, and it was more cliché than it was scary. The best parts of it are a couple of the creepy creatures and Odette Yustman’s butt. But I feel like you can get every piece of the enjoyment of those things from the movie poster I am attaching to this review. So there’s not going to be much enjoyment to be gotten out of this movie, but I would say this would be a good candidate to watch at home with friends just to make fun of. The Unborn gets “It’s not safe to be around me” out of “Am I going to be falling forever?”
The reports I had heard about today’s movie were extremely mixed. It seemed that critics were in love with this movie, but the average viewer was not always on the same page. I even heard comparisons to the movie Drive, that many critics thought was brilliant. I, however, thought that movie was garbage, the likes of which I would never want to endure again. And yet still I decided I would watch the movie Hereditary, written and directed by Ari Aster, and starring Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Ann Dowd.
Uhhhhhh…this is complicated. There’s this family. Mom Annie (Collette), dad Steve (Byrne), son Peter (Wolff), and daughter Charlie (Shapiro). Annie’s mom dies and then creepy things start happening. First ghosty things and then witchy things. I don’t know, man. It’s confusing.
So, which side did I end up on? Did I hate the movie or love it? …Neither. I disliked a lot of things in this movie, but I wouldn’t call it bad. The movie succeeded in being pretty unsettling in parts and definitely pulled off creepy, but I don’t know if I’d say it was scary either. But as far as horror movies go, I would say that makes it successful. Most movies rely heavily on jump scares or gore to call themselves horror movies, but there’s an art to creating an atmosphere that gives the audience an uneasy feeling, and this movie is able to pull that off. I feel like this is the kind of movie people are going to have to watch for themselves because everyone is going to have their own reactions to it, much (as I had heard beforehand) like the movie Drive.
So that’s my review, if that’s why you came here. But generally speaking, I wouldn’t say I’m the best place to come for thoughtful film criticism. I mostly make jokes about things that happen in the movie and at the end, I say if I liked it or not. But the jokes to be made about this movie are going to be mostly spoilers, so if you intend to see it, maybe come back after. Otherwise, here we go with some spoilers:
A lot of this movie is about Toni Collette dealing with loss. First she loses and eulogizes her mother and starts going to support groups about it where she gives a big sob story about her troublesome relationship with her mother and dealing with her loss. I really wish that when she finished her harrowing tale the rest of the people in the group stared at her and said, “Uh…this is a group for dealing with the loss of a pet…” But we don’t always get what we want. For example, Annie probably didn’t want her daughter to be decapitated by a telephone pole, and the people who made the movie probably didn’t want me to laugh when it happened. But it was kinda funny. At least to me.
The visuals of this movie certainly aided in creating a mood. The whole movie had a sense of isolation to it, especially since it seemed that the place where they filmed it had very strict zoning laws that required no building be built near enough to another building that it could see it. You’ve got one building, acres of open land, and then maybe you can have another building. I’ve never been one to say that gore makes a horror movie good, but this movie did have some good ones. From the decapitated head of Charlie covered in ants to when Annie was sawing her head off with a wire, it was just the right amount of unpleasant to look at.
The performances are probably what a lot of this movie hinges on. Toni Collette sure did a performance. It wasn’t bad. In fact, I’d probably say it was good. Maybe even great. But it did feel a little over the top at times. I guess others might argue that it was right on the money though since her daughter was decapitated shortly after her mom died and a little before her husband burst into flames, so perhaps a little hysteria is called for. I guess it could also explain some of the things she did I found nonsensical. Not her job though. She had that before her tragedies and I still found it inexplicable. But who is paying this woman to make tiny, creepy, dioramas? Is there a big market for a miniature recreation of your daughter’s untimely death? And moreover, is there a reason for this to be such a big part of this movie? She also seemed pretty off on her judgment of normal behavior, like when she tried to excuse her sleep-walking actions. She acted like it was a completely common occurrence for sleep walkers to attempt to murder their children by dousing them with paint-thinner and lighting a match. You know, as all our mothers did at one time or another. Also, when her husband said she was scaring their son and she said, “No I am not!” … all while he was crying his eyes out because of her hysteria. Of course, I didn’t like that boy either. Like, he kills his sister. It was an accident and I don’t blame him for that. She was the dumb ass that stuck her head out the window like a dog. But right after you killed your sister you’re just gonna drive home, park in the driveway with her torso still in the car, go up to your room and go night-night? At least leave a Post-It note on the fridge, homie. “Mom, killed Charlie. Will clean it up in the morning. Just a heads up. Sorry, poor choice of words.” He also accused his mom of trying to pull his head off when some ghostly hands grabbed him through his headboard of his bed. Dude, your headboard was against the wall. That is physically impossible. And this was before he had the excuse of the head injury he received at school when he bashed his face into his desk. And the school also didn’t have the excuse of a head injury of their own when they sent him home after that. He was unconscious! So much so that his parents had to carry his unconscious body into the house to put him in bed. Shouldn’t he have been sent to a hospital if he was practically in a coma?
So Hereditary was a little confusing, but certainly unsettling. Maybe even to the point where some would call it scary. The performances chewed the scenery a bit, but I would certainly give them credit for going all out. I’m still not entirely sure what I’d tell people about this movie. It seems to be very polarizing and I can see why. I wound up in the middle, thinking it to be a solid horror movie. It wouldn’t hurt you to watch it, but I don’t think I’d call it a necessity either. Hereditary gets “I never wanted to be your mother” out of “Hail, Paimon!”