The Unborn (2009) Movie Review

The Unborn (2009)

2009 | PG-13 | Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery
88 minutes /

User Score: 47/100

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The Unborn Review


A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.

The Unborn (2009) isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s plainly underwhelming--and try as David S. Goyer might put a Jewish spin to the subgenre, it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before in the recent crop of other exorcism movies.

The Unborn follows Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman - Cloverfield (2008)), who is plagued by terrifying visions of a boy with stark blue eyes. In trying to make sense of the deaths that begin to pile around her, she discovers that she had a twin, nicknamed Jumby, who died in the womb. And Jumby is demanding to be "born now."

Casey’s search sends her down a rabbit hole of N*zi experimentation and Jewish folklore: Her troubled family history reveals an evil spirit called the Dybbuk that has tormented her family for generations, even driving her mother to suicide. Honestly, between flashbacks to a dead mother and an evil ghost twin determined to possess her, there’s a lot going on in this plot without having to mine Auschwitz, of all things, for a throwaway backstory--a bizarre creative decision that can be laid squarely at the feet of David S. Goyer as its writer and director. It’s utterly unnecessary because the dybbuk is plenty horrifying on its own.

It’s made decent casting choices in Gary Oldman, James Remar, Carla Gugino, and Idris Elba, but they’re not used to full effect as supporting characters to lackluster talents like Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, and even Odette Yustman herself. It’s not that she doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off a leading role--there’s just not enough meat to this movie for her to be taken seriously, or campy enough to catapult her to scream queen status.

Things come to a head when she turns to Rabbi Joseph Sendak (Gary Oldman - Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), The Dark Knight (2008), Batman Begins (2005)) to perform a Jewish exorcism. The third act is the low point of the movie: Whereas the movie was bearable ‘til now, its ending is just run-of-the-mill horror fare that derails the momentum that The Unborn had so far built on, with wind machines and wire rigs at work as the exorcism goes sideways.

Sure, The Unborn plays right into a lot of horror cliches, copping scares off of far better movies--from the dreamscapes made famous by A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) to others less subtle, like the iconic stair scene of The Exorcism--but at least they’re done competently. Everything is tinged a morose blue, an oft-used trick in movies like this, but it works. Scenes, where Jumby makes his presence, felt, especially the opening dream sequence, lend effectively creepy imagery--no doubt these are the highlights of the movie. I’d be lying if I said none of the special effects wouldn’t make you slink back in your seat. They may not be very original, in retrospect, but they do deserve credit for being polished and well-executed.

About The Unborn (2009)

Title: The Unborn
Original Title: Born, Untitled David S. Goyer Project
Year: 2009
Runtime: 88 minutes
Type: Movie
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery
Score: 2.5 / 5 stars
Avg. Rating: 2.35/5 stars from 184 users.
Total Avg. Votes: 184
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: James Remar, Idris Elba, Cam Gigandet, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Brian Boland, Tommy Bartlett, Jane Alexander, Rhys Coiro, Odette Annable, Craig J. Harris, Scott Lindvall, Joe DeVito, James Pusztay, Shannon Edwards, Mindy Bell, Niko El Santo Zavero, Roslyn Alexander, Larry Nazimek, Erik A. Williams, C.S. Lee, Michael Sassone, Tom Lowell, Joseph Luis Caballero, Ethan Cutkosky, Kenya Drew, Circus-Szalewski, Evyenia Constantine, Rachel Brosnahan, Alan Deutsch
Writers: David S. Goyer
Director: David S. Goyer

The Unborn Cover Poster Art