Published Jan 09, 2009Super-geek screenwriter extraordinaire David S. Goyer should be swimming in credibility after being the primary pen behind both instalments of Batman's reinvention. Yet, while Goyer's successful genre scripts (Dark City, Blade II) outweigh his misfires (Jumper, The Crow II), his directorial output has yet to yield a fully satisfying picture. Still, The Unborn is a ghostly suspense thriller with more chuckles and chills than average Hollywood scare farces like The Grudge.
Opening with some lovely overhead shots and sweeping camera movements that follow a young woman by the name of Casey Beldon jogging across a bridge in the forest, The Unborn quickly establishes a surreal and unsettling tone involving an eerie child and a pit-bull wearing a porcelain mask.
Once past the bizarre dream sequence opening, Casey begins experiencing supernatural events after being struck in the face with a mirror by one of the children she's babysitting. Score one for the creepy kid department. Some funky colouration begins to manifest in Casey's eyes, in conjunction with the increasingly spooky noises and apparitions that seem to be haunting her.
The extremely foxy Odette Yustman does solid work with a serviceable script that contains far too many overwrought and clunky lines to be taken seriously. One almost feels a bit bad for laughing at the dialogue while she's trying so damn hard to sell Casey's distraught terror. She screams and cries with the best of them and looks great in her skivvies - who can ask for more from the lead in a B-horror flick? Meagan Good as Casey's best friend Romy and Cam Gigandet as her loving boyfriend Mark give comfortable low-key performances but the great Gary Oldman is vastly underused as the initially sceptical Rabbi Sendak.
Goyer does a good job of poking fun at horror film conventions and bending audience expectation to his will to provide some legitimate jolts but no sooner is said jolt delivered than the scene degenerates into a level of fuzzy effects-ridden camp that is often creepy and hilarious at the same time. I want to believe the humour is intentional but either way, it'll make for an enjoyable Halloween rental.