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Casey Beldon hated her mother for abandoning her as a child. But when inexplicable events begin to happen, Casey begins to understand why she left. Plagued by merciless dreams and a tortured ghost that haunts her waking hours, she must turn to the only person, Rabbi Sendak, who can make it stop. With the help of Sendak, her best friend Romy and boyfriend Mark, Casey uncovers the source of a family curse dating back to Nazi Germany--a creature with the ability to inhabit anyone or anything that is getting stronger with each possession. With the curse unleashed, her only chance at survival is to shut a doorway from beyond our world that has been pried open by someone who was never born.
For more about The Unborn and the The Unborn Blu-ray release, see the The Unborn Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 1, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Odette Annable (Yustman), Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, James Remar, Atticus Shaffer
Director: David S. Goyer
» See full cast & crew
The Unborn Blu-ray Review
Wake me when it's over...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 1, 2009
I wish I could pinpoint the precise moment American Horror died. Purists will tell you that the recent rash of uninspired remakes and superficial revamps have crippled the genre. Cinephiles often blame Hollywood's seeming inability to generate fresh ideas, as well as its insistence on skimming concepts from other countries that have a firmer grasp on the macabre. Gorehounds tend to point to the influx of mass market, PG-13 releases and, ultimately, the dilution of the genre. Whatever the reason, it's become all too clear to me that studios have completely lost touch with genuine horror. So it was with a heavy heart and great trepidation that I approached writer/director David S. Goyer and producer Michael Bay's The Unborn, a bumbling, neutered genre pic that mews every time it attempts to roar.
Brought to you by some of the same folks who produced the latest incarnations of The Hitcher, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and Friday the 13th -- please, contain your excitement -- The Unborn treads familiar territory with the tale of a young teenage girl named Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) who inexplicably becomes haunted by terrifying visions of a sullen-eyed waif (Ethan Cutkosky) her hallucinations have conveniently (and comically) dubbed Jumby. After a laughable encounter with a mirror-wielding baby-killer (did I mention the vicious psychopath in question is a four-year old kid?) and a trip to the doctor, Casey grills her father (James Remar) and learns she had a twin brother once upon a time who died in the womb. The nickname her father and mother (Carla Gugino) gave the unborn fetus? Jumby, of course.
Before you can say derivative, Casey digs into her dead mother's past, tracks down a Holocaust survivor (Jane Alexander) willing to fulfill her every expositional desire, discovers she's actually being haunted by a Jewish spirit called a dybbuk, and hires a pair of exorcists (Gary Oldman and The Wire's Idris Elba, arriving far too late to save the film's young actors from their inexperience and bland line delivery) to boot the temperamental demon back to hell. But will she be able to protect her best friend Romy (Meagan Good) from being consumed by the evil entity? Will her cute-n-cuddly boy-toy, Mark (Cam Gigandet), live to tell the tale? Will we ever feel anything for any of these people? The answers are as predictable as Goyer's script, lurching from one plot point to the next without establishing a clearly defined set of rules (a must for supernatural horror of this ilk), a sense of prevailing logic, or even a consistent storyline; one that doesn't buckle under the pressures of the film's flaccid twists and turns.
I wouldn't blame anyone for mistaking The Unborn for a straight-to-video entry in the Exorcist series. Unoriginal, unwieldy, and an unfortunate waste of talent, Goyer spends more time in his third feature film (after 2004's equally shallow Blade: Trinity and 2007's similarly underdeveloped Invisible) culling acclaimed classics of yesteryear than crafting any legitimate scares of his own. His over-polished jolts fall flat and his dialogue is as tedious and tiresome as a McDonald's late-night menu board... even a welcome third-act surge of twisting heads and mangled bodies fails to stir up any palpable fear or dread. Conventional mirror gags and skittering corpses dominate Goyer's repertoire, making it increasingly impossible to relish in the budding on-screen chaos. Worse still, his smooth-skinned cast compounds his floundering screenplay's every ill. Every pedestrian development is accompanied by the inane meanderings of a pack of lightweight featherweights all too eager to rob the story of any sense of urgency or authenticity. Oldman and Elba are nice additions to the proceedings, but tend to highlight the inadequacies of their younger castmates.
While not as unwatchable as recent flops like Shutter and One Missed Call, The Unborn is as dull and lifeless as they come, offering genre fans the same victims and so-called scares they've endured a thousand times before without injecting anything remotely unique into the mix. Frankly, I expected a lot more from a filmmaker who has his creative hands in director Christopher Nolan's billion-dollar-plus Dark Knight pie. Ah well, at the least the Blu-ray edition of the flick boasts a solid AV presentation. On that note...
The Unborn Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Unborn features a slick, oft-times striking 1080p/VC-1 transfer that renders Goyer's limp beasties with a technical proficiency befitting a more substantial release. Cinematographer James Hawkinson has intentionally stripped his palette of primary punch -- offering bleak, wintery hues in place of searing reds or vibrant blues -- but crisp contrast, bottomless blacks, and absorbing shadows combine forces to produce a strong and stable image. While a few scenes (chief among them a post-copulation chat between Casey and Mark) lack the refined textures that frequent the rest of the film, fine detail and overall clarity is quite impressive. Better still, Goyer's special effects and CG enhanced visuals are fairly seamless, even under the scrutiny of such a revealing high definition presentation. Even though a few late-in-the-game dybbuk flare-ups are plagued by noticeable (albeit negligible) artifacts, the picture remains steady and consistent throughout. All in all, I didn't encounter any significant digital anomalies, color banding, unsightly edge enhancement, or meddlesome noise reduction. It may not be the greatest transfer Universal has released on the market, but it is a noteworthy effort that helps ease the pain of watching The Unborn unfold.
The Unborn Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Despite having all the subtlety of a blaring boombox in a local haunted house, The Unborn's faithful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track gets the job done, forcing the listener to peak around every sonic corner and peer into every aural shadow until an inevitable blast of sound sends them retreating into their seats. Dialogue -- whispered, muttered, or screamed -- remains clear and intelligible, low-end support is weighty and robust, and rear speaker activity is aggressive... at least when called upon. Much of Goyer's story takes place in dusty abandoned buildings, quiet houses, and empty forests. As such, the mix can be a bit front-heavy at times, pulling the soundfield forward and inadvertently pushing the audience out of the film. Thankfully, the majority of the experience is enveloping, relying on precise ambient effects, convincing interior acoustics, and chilling pans to make the most of Goyer's all-too-expected scares. It certainly isn't the most frightening lossless track you'll encounter, but it is a competent and commendable one. Anyone who finds themselves sinking into Casey's world will be pleased with the results.
The Unborn Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
I didn't enjoy The Unborn, but I was still disappointed by Universal's decision to forgo a proper supplemental package. Aside from a small batch of deleted scenes (HD, 7 minutes), the Blu-ray edition doesn't offer anything more than a My Scenes bookmarking feature and BD-Live functionality.
The Unborn Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Unborn could have been an unsettling standout packed with leering corpses and disturbing visions. Instead, it's yet another weaksauce attempt to scare a teenage audience; a plodding and predictable bore that doesn't rejuvenate, re-energize, or reinvent its genre. At least Universal has put together a solid Blu-ray disc. Ignoring the fact that its supplemental package is a piddly seven-minutes long, The Unborn arrives with an excellent video transfer and a relatively impressive DTS-HD Master Audio track. A rental is definitely in order for the flick itself, but anyone who digs Goyer's supernatural chiller will be more than satisfied with Universal's high definition presentation.
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The Unborn Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - July 7th - July 6, 2009
While Hollywood continually adapts to the demands of an ever-changing audience, there is one thing it can always rely upon - funny is funny. Whether it is the unlikely mannerisms of 'Dr. Strangelove', the mischievous plots of 'Ferris Bueller', or the life of a ...
• The Unborn Announced for Blu-ray Release - May 4, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the horror flick 'The Unborn' to Blu-ray on July 7th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Directed and writen by famed writer David S. Goyer, the film will be presented in both its theatrical ...
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