Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
January 2009

Just abort it

'The Unborn' may just qualify for an extra-special release strategy for extra-special crap

The Unborn
Rogue Pictures
Director: David S. Goyer
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Starring: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Idris Elba, Cam Gigandet, Jane Alexander and Ethan Cutkosky
Rated PG-13 / 1 hour, 27 minutes
Opened January 9, 2009
(out of four)

Almost everything about The Unborn suggests that it's a second-rate production. The dull plot that seems to have just picked off the last rotten sliver of an idea from the horror-movie dregs and tried to make an entire movie out of it. The banal dialogue and cheap story mechanics. Even the lead actress - you just know the studio wanted Megan Fox and couldn't get her. "What's her asking price? That's outrageous!" the studio executive says. "Well can we get someone who kind of looks like her?"

The casting director, bound by an exciting new set of instructions, comes back with Odette Yustman. "Yeah, she'll do," the studio exec says. "She kind of looks like she could be Megan Fox's sister. She's perfect. A few people will probably even think it's Megan Fox. THAT is our audience, friend. Hey, we can even put her buttocks on the poster!"

And so it goes.

This is one of those movies that you should find at 2:30 in the morning at one of those Redbox stands outside your local grocery store. You know the movies I'm talking about - the ones that are either blatant rip-offs of other movies or who design their DVD cover art to mimic a more popular movie. (My favorites? Transmorphers and The Day the Earth Stopped. Well done.)

They're bad horror movies, mostly - of which The Unborn is most definitely one. Now that I think about it, this should be a new release strategy. There's already enough direct-to-video releases - this one should be straight-to-Redbox. Don't bother with all the rigamarole of a 3,000-screen wide release and force us to pony up eight bucks. Send it straight to those Redbox machines, exclusively, and just take your dollar or two - or, if my recent unfortunate Redbox experience is any indication, $59.36 - from the unfortunate souls who don't have the myriad choices of a video-store showroom or Netflix account, or are just bored and tired at 2:30 in the morning and aren't exercising good judgment.

That, my friends, is your market.

The only thing that lends serious credibility to The Unborn is the presence of Gary Oldman, who is thrust into the plot as a rabbi who must help a sexy young coed, Casey (Yustman), who is being haunted by the soul of her unborn twin fetus.

Nicknamed "Jumby," the ghostly soul desperately wants to be born - something it never got the chance to do after dying in the womb - and can manifest itself in others' bodies for the purposes of intimidation. Of course, such a power makes you wonder why Jumby can't just stay in one of those bodies instead of wasting all that energy trying to get born.

Can't Jumby just jump into an infant body and leave it at that? Then he could skip the whole birth scenario - the crowning, the crying, the umbilical cord - and save us all some trouble.

Speaking of saving trouble, one thing that I learned once and for all from The Unborn is that I'm just going to start reading every newspaper clipping I can get my hands on. I'm going to rummage through all my parents' things and every basement and attic of every place I've ever lived and find all their old clippings - because according to movies like this, there is tons of stuff we've yet to discover about our past.

I can't wait. It's a veritable gold mine of incredibly disturbing information that your parents or landlord should have told you. Well, the wrong guy found out. Watch out, Sunset Tower Apartments - I'm on to you! (That's right, you too, Mom. Or are you?!)

But back to our Casey. She gets freaked out by a neighborhood child, starts having visions, finds out that she is a twin and proceeds to try to fight the little demon off. Along for the ride is her smoking-hot best friend, Romy (Meagan Good), who is around for moral support and pithy dialogue about boys and ancient curses.

That's it. You can figure out the rest from there. An exorcism is involved. But you knew that already, didn't you?

Writer/director David S. Goyer is known as a thoroughly mediocre writer who has collaborated on a few great projects - Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Dark City, all of which were largely products of other people, though Goyer deserves credit for his valuable contributions - but doesn't come off all that well when left to his own devices. The Unborn is a prime example. In his first directorial effort since The Invisible - which absolutely no one saw - he offers only a cheap, low-rent thriller. Redbox is calling.

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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