** (out of 5)
January 9, 2009
Odette Yustman as CASEY BELDON
Gary Oldman as RABBI SENDAK
Meagan Good as ROMEY
Cam Gigandet as MARK HARDIGAN
Studio: Rogue Pictures
Directed by: David S. Goyer
BY KEVIN CARR
I need to trust my gut more. If I do that, I won’t be so disappointed in some movies.
Case in point, “The Unborn.” The movie has been released on the first open weekend of 2009. Last year, the one film that had that honor was the putrid “One Missed Call.” “The Unborn” is also a horror film that wasn’t screened for most critics… never a good sign. Finally, it was written and directed by David S. Goyer, who has penned quite a few impressive screenplays (including “Batman Begins” and “Dark City”), but has usually poured out garbage when he directs (including non-hits like “Blade: Trinity” and “The Invisible”).
Still, I wanted to like this movie. In general, I enjoy horror flicks, and the films stars Odette Yustman (the hot chick from “Cloverfield”) and Meagan Good.
But when I finally saw it, after paying good money in the theater, I found myself sorely disappointed.
“The Unborn” borrows from many different and better horror movies, including the entire slate of 70s evil children films. It’s about a college girl named Casey (Yustman) who is having visions of a creepy young boy. Soon, she discovers that this child is her twin brother, who died in the womb. After researching her plight, she learns that he is actually a demon trying to find his way into our world.
On the whole, Goyer’s screenplays are pretty intriguing. Even his poorly directed films have decent log lines for the genre crowd. However, the guy can’t manage to direct a decent movie. Maybe he does need an overbearing director to polish his scripts for him because his un-revised dialogue in this film and others he’s directed fall somewhere between mundane and utterly ridiculous.
“The Unborn” has a nice look to it, and if you take it as nothing more than a hodge-podge of wacky dream sequences and creepy visions of a psycho child, it works. However, none of these shocking moments fit together very well, and they don’t really serve the story. Even if you haven’t seen the trailers, by the time you get to the second or third vision (of at least a dozen), you’ll figure out what’s going on.
As inefficient as Goyer is at directing his own scripts, he’s even worse at directing his young talent. Although she’s been in a few movies and some television, Odette Yustman is still an undefined actor. I imagine a good director could pull a decent performance out of her, but Goyer lets her flounder through the script, which has her alternating between trite dialogue and overdone screaming. At least she looks good in her underwear, or it’d be a total waste of screen time.
Then there’s Meagan Good, who has been in a variety of films and television shows. She’s proved herself as an actor, but she struggles to deliver Goyer’s choppy dialogue. Even a stellar actor like Gary Oldman can’t manage the script, and he just seems to be holding his nose through most of the scenes, hoping for that paycheck to cover his bills for the month.
There are some excellent looking moments in the film. At the very least, Goyer has a decent D.P. and special effects/make-up staff. Maybe as a direct-to-DVD title… maybe… but not worth a theatrical run by a long shot. Even for the run-of-the-mill, first of the year horror flick, “The Unborn” is pretty much a miscarriage.