The Unborn (2009)


Jumby Wants to be Born Now.

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?”

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