Blast Magazine welcomes movie critic Emma Johnson with this review. You’ve seen her in The Boston Globe and elsewhere. Enjoy.


In lean times like these, it’s good to know where one can scrimp and save on the little things. So here’s an excellent tip that will save you an average of ten dollars right out of the gate: If you have seen the extended theatrical trailer of “The Unborn,” don’t worry about seeing the movie. You will have missed nothing.

It’s the latest in a troubling trend in film marketing: all the good, truly frightening moments of “Unborn” have already been revealed on the trailers. Dirty, ghostly little boy with piercing blue eyes? Check. Vicious dog with it’s head hanging upside down? Check, check. A magically contorted old man climbing up the stairs in an stunningly obvious rip-off of “The Exorcist”? Checkity, check, check, check.

Directed by: David S. Goyer

Written by: David S. Goyer

Starring: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman

Seen at: Loews Boston Common

Running time: 87 mins

Rated: PG-13

What we’re left with is a strange and unintentionally funny film, written and directed by David S. Goyer. As the marketing people are eager to let you know, Goyer was one of the co-writers of “The Dark Knight.” This is a sorry follow-up, starring newcomer Odette Yustman as a Chicago co-ed named Casey who believes she’s being haunted by the aforementioned boy and dog. She learns that she was in fact a twin, and that her brother died when they were both in the womb. Convinced she’s haunted by the ghost of her brother, Casey goes about exorcising the nefarious fetus from her life.

What follows is a badly edited fever dream of horror conventions and random historical narrative. Apparently the Holocaust is the cause of all of this unrest, and Casey has to enlist the help of a menschy Rabbi played by Gary Oldman in a yarmulke. He prescribes … a Jewish exorcism? Ok. And then he gets more help from an Episcopalian priest, because why not? Goyer even manages to find time for some old-fashioned philosophical discussion on the limits of the universe.


It’s really all just a disaster, a scrap heap of themes and half-baked ideas. But it might all be worth it simply for the moment when Casey’s grandmother proclaims, “It falls upon you to finish what began at Auschwitz.” At the screening I attended, this heady statement led only to unrepressed giggles throughout the theater.

Yustman is backed by the customary hunky, personality-less boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) and sassy BFF (Meagan Good), both of whom are capable, if unremarkable, in their roles. Yustman, the protagonist, appears to exist only to jog in slow motion down the same sidewalk and stare tremulously into her bathroom mirror while wearing ill-fitting underwear. Oldman is easily the best thing in the film — but then again, Gary Oldman is usually the best thing in any film.

All of the sins mentioned above could be forgiven in an instant if the movie was actually frightening. Perhaps it was the over-expository trailers, or the over-cooked CGI, but there were few jumps if any to be had in “The Unborn.” The climactic scene, which takes place in what I couldn’t figure out was a church or a town hall, was more about wind machines and shaky camera movements than it was about actual horror.

The scariest moments and images in “Unborn” were the little ones: a spooky roll of film, a photograph where a boy mysteriously appears, a tapping sound on a mirror. Of course, these are all cliches. We’ve seen these tricks a thousand times. But sometimes a cliche is a cliche because it works. It’s just that nothing really worked in “The Unborn.”

About The Author

Emma Johnson is a Blast Magazine critic whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe

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