Monday, October 25, 2010

The Unborn (Unrated)

Sometimes you watch a movie because it stars an actor that you like.  Sometimes, you're a fan of the director.  Big film buffs (like me) will even choose films because of the writer.  It is unusual for a movie to use the writer as a big selling point for a movie, though.  The writer/director of The Unborn happens to be David S. Goyer, whose writing credits include Dark City, the Blade trilogy, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and, uh, Kickboxer 2: The Road Back.  That's a pretty impressive list of credits.  The Unborn also features actor's actor Gary Oldman and Idris Elba in the supporting cast.  This is definitely a film with promise.

But before I go into the plot, I would like to point out the promotional poster for the movie.  Judging from that image, I would assume that the plot of The Unborn is heavily involved in female butts.  Perhaps this is a supernatural thriller about an entity that has one of those FoodSaver vacuum sealers, only instead of vacuum sealing food pouches, it sucks the air out of panties.  And that creepy kid in the mirror is like, "Hey, that can't possibly be comfortable, lady."  Or maybe later, he asks, "If you fart in vacuum sealed underwear, is that smell kept fresh?"  Yeah, I feel pretty safe assuming that this movie's story follows something along those lines.

The film opens with Casey (Odette Yustman) jogging down a road, when she sees a blue glove in the road.  When she stops to look at the glove, the movie takes a brief detour into my favorite string of commercials.  Look at the glove.  Now at me.  Now, look behind you; there is a creepy and possibly dead child staring at you.  Look again; he has become a dog wearing a mask.  Look down, now up; where is the dog?  He is gone, but you hear him scampering in the woods.  Follow the dog, find the mask, dig under the mask and you find...a fetus in amber.  And it's looking at you.  And all this time, you have kept your iPod earbuds in.  Anything is possible when you smell like Old Spice.  Or when, in Casey's case, you are dreaming.

Yeah, it's a dream.  Too bad, since that scene was decently creepy.  The film then cuts to Casey discussing her dream over the phone with her friend Romy (Meagan Good), who reads from her Psych 101 textbook and tells Casey that dreaming about dogs can mean something about death.  I bet that doesn't foreshadow anything.  Casey goes to check on the baby that she's sitting and finds the infant's four year-old brother, Matty (Atticus Shaffer), holding a small mirror up to the baby, trying to get it to look at itself.  When Casey asks Matty what he's doing, he surprises her by smashing the mirror into her face (HA!) and telling her "Jumby wants to be born now."  That doesn't seem so bad; that poor genie has been a disembodied head since the 80s.  Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho, right? Oh, wait, that's Jambi.  Never mind.  For a while after this, Casey starts hallucinating all sorts of things, like seeing the phrase "Jumby wants to be born now" and the dead kid.  She handles these images in stride, offering just a quizzical tilt of the head.  But when her hallucinations start to include bugs, GET OUT OF HER WAY.  Bugs?  Game over, man, game over.

About this time, one of Casey's eyes starts to change color, from blue to brown.  Like a smart lady, she gets it checked out; her doctor (CS Lee) asks if she was a twin.  Apparently, she's not sure, so she asks her father (James Remar), who tells her that, yes, she had a twin in the womb, but her brother choked on her umbilical cord early in the pregnancy.  Did he have a name?  I knew you'd ask that.  The answer is no, since it was so early, but they did have a pet name for him: Jumby.  That's right.  Casey was damn lucky to get named "Casey" and not, say, "Fu Schnickens."  Okay, so dead baby brother wants to haunt his big sis/murderer.  Not a bad premise.  Apparently, that was not nearly enough plot on David S. Goyer's proverbial dinner plate.  The second half of the movie ties into Auschwitz (the concentration camp, not the theme park), Nazi medical experiments, Jewish mysticism (specifically Kabbalah), and exorcism.  What the hell, Goyer?

As you might imagine from the plot vomit, this movie is a mess.  There is way too much exposition in this film and none of it get more than a few moments to sink in.  To be fair, the awesomely overcomplicated plot does try to distract viewers from the main actors' talents.  Specifically, Odette Yustman is better off playing that girl in Transformers whose car attacks her than an actual character with dialogue and alleged depth.  The best thing she did in this movie was allow somebody to airbrush her underwear on for the promo poster.  Her fellow actors are no big help; Meagan Good and Cam Gigandet (Casey's boyfriend) are just as vapid as she is.  That's too bad, since the adult supporting cast consists of solid actors who don't have the opportunity to shine.  Gary Oldman is pretty decent, but his role is not extraordinary.  Idris Elba, James Remar, and Jane Alexander all make brief appearances, but none of them are memorable.  I will give writer/director Goyer credit that the movie does maintain a decent pace through this breakneck plot.  He needed to spend more time on his principal actors, because they were, without exception, dreadful.

That's too bad, because this movie had a lot going for it.  Like what?  Oh, lots.
  • The script has plenty of hep sexual dialogue that is not awkward at all.  I love to hear characters reference their "wood" and "disease filled vagina," especially when the characters are not in raunchy comedies.
  • All the college age characters attend the same university, and yet all of them live with their parents.  Really?
  • When women are home alone, in an obviously chilly house, their comfy clothes are always paper-thin tank tops and tighty whities. 
  • After hallucinating in a club, running to the bathroom and vomiting in a stall, does Casey take the opportunity to peer into her stall's glory hole?  Of course she does.
  • Little known fact: Odette Yustman is Megan Fox's long-long, less talented sister.

What utter garbage.  I will give Gary Oldman and Idris Elba credit for pretending that they were in a legitimate exorcism movie, but that is nowhere near what this movie needed to not be awful.

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