The Unborn (2009) Movie Review

The Unborn (2009) Poster

The Unborn (2009)

2009 | PG-13 | Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery, Fantasy
88 minutes / 1h 28min

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The Unborn Plot Synopsis:

While babysitting a boy and his baby brother, Casey Beldon has a dreadful nightmare involving a weird dog and an evil child, and she tells her best friend Romy over the phone. Casey is haunted by this boy, and when she goes to the ophthalmologist, he asks if she has a twin brother or sister. She asks her father and discovers that her mother lost a son that died in the womb. Casey suspects that she is haunted by the spirit of her brother. She finds a letter addressed to a woman called Sofi Kozma and a creepy picture at home that belonged to her mother. She goes with Romy to a retirement home to meet Sofi, a survivor of the experiments during the Holocaust. But Sofi tells Casey that she had never met her mother and later calls Casey to tell her she is in great danger.

The Unborn (2009) Review

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.

  • The Unborn Rating Scores
  • Our Score: 5
  • Overall Score: 3.66
  • IMDB: 4.8
  • MetaCritic: 3.0
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 1.0

About The Unborn 2009

Title: The Unborn
Year: 2009
Runtime: 88 minutes
Type: Movie
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Drama, Mystery, Fantasy
Reviewer: Score: 2.5 / 5 stars Avg. Rating: 1.83/5 stars from 46,037 users.
Total Avg. Votes: 46,037 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Unborn Cast Starring: Gary Oldman, James Remar, Idris Elba, Cam Gigandet, Carla Gugino, Brian Boland, Rhys Coiro, Jane Alexander, Odette Annable, Tommy Bartlett, James Pusztay, Joe DeVito, Mindy Bell, Shannon Edwards, Roslyn Alexander, Larry Nazimek, Niko El Santo Zavero, Erik A. Williams, C.S. Lee, Craig J. Harris, Scott Lindvall, Kymberly Mellen, Suzy Brack, Maury Cooper, Lili Haydn, Robert Erck, Mandy Schneider, Jamie Louachai, Guy Van Swearingen, Braden Moran
The Unborn Writers: NA
The Unborn Director: David S. Goyer
Box Office: $42,638,165
Production: Rogue Pictures
Language: English, Hebrew
Country: USA