The Unborn

Nazi for reasons yet to be revealed

It’s just good advice: in a movie, or in life, don’t look in the glory hole.
Reported on 12th of January, 2009

You can never know what you’re getting when you sit down to see a movie, but this simple fact doesn’t mean that I can’t predict what an entire year of film will be like. 

The Unborn

12 January 2009 @ AMC Santa Monica 7

$8.50 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


If lazy screenwriters can rely on the cheap tricks that prophecy provides, so can I. Thus: the first film that I see sets the tone for the rest of the year.  The dark days of January, the dumping ground for the crap the studios have no other place to put, are the entrails from which I divine the year.  I am surprisingly successful with this technique.  The jaw-dropping In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale correctly predicted 2007, the best year in cinema since 1990, just as Cabin Boy presaged 1994, a year with Quiz Show, Pulp Fiction, Speed, Léon, Ed Wood, Heavenly Creatures, The Usual Suspects, and Cabin Boy.

It works the other way as well.  When I saw One Missed Call at the beginning of 2008, it was a desperate attempt to erase the memory of the baffingly overpraised There Will Be Blood.  It succeeded, since, while I remember almost nothing about One Missed Call, including the title, and constantly confuse it with the virtually identical Pulse, I do remember it was better than There Will Be Blood.  To the best of my recollection: cute girl, cell phones, and better than There Will Be Blood.  Which was 2008 in a nutshell.

A rather unfortunate choice of words: “It has fallen upon you to finish was begun in Auschwitz.” 

[/pullquoteL]And now the oracles turn to The Unborn, which predicts a year of cute girls (two years in a row!), mysterious guest star appearances (Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, Carla Gugino and Jane Alexander all appear as bit parts; it’s very disconcerting), some admittedly great scenes surrounded by a totally nonsensical and convenient plot, and the resurrection of a deserving star of yesteryear.  No, not Mickey Rourke: Spuds Mackenzie, who makes his own brief appearance.  What his agent will do about the fact that his head is now upside down, I couldn’t say.

It’s going to be a great year.

The Unborn enters the arena with a lot going against it.  It is not going to be a critical darling, which is a shame really, since it delivers a lot more than most films of its ilk.  Howard Hawks said that it didn’t matter what kind of movie you made as long as you have 2 or 3 great scenes.  And to be fair, The Unborn has those scenes.  It opens rather well, with the creepy boy losing a glove (I can’t remember: did they have bright blue gloves in Auschwitz?), and then turning into dog with a boy mask, which is just plain cool, and then the mask into a fetus in a jar that proceeds to open its eyes and go ‘boo’.  At that point, you’ve got a good 30 minutes before you need to see a glory hole with the words, “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

And no, I’m not kidding.  The film really has its moments; it is, after all, from the man who gave us vampires snorting dried blood in Blade 2.  And the glory hole provides the chance for something new to say out loud in a horror movie.  We’ve heard, “Don’t go in there!”, and “Don’t hang out under the cat really to pounce on you from the top of the refrigerator!” (hard to get out in one breath), and even, and this is true “Don’t go under the stairs!” heard very plainly, in front of witnesses, during The People Under the Stairs.  And now we have the much more original: “Don’t look in the glory hole!”  Our heroine ignores our shouted pleas, as is her duty, and even though in this case it’s only a million gooey potato bugs that come flying out, it’s just good advice: in a movie, or in life, don’t look in the glory hole.

Which leads us to our second disadvantage: this is a PG-13 horror movie, which normally I detest, since the point of horror movies isn’t to scare people, but to do really bizarre things to the human body and make me go eww.   But Goyer, and the MPAA, didn’t seem to know this, or care, and so while no one can say ‘fuck’ (a popular word for actors while improving, as is apparently ‘look’ and ‘listen’), they can have, say, glory holes.  Goyer pushes this rating as far as he can go, especially with Miss Yustman, who walks around in underwear that would make the editors of Maxim blush, finally culminating with a brief shot of her grabbing said underwear off the floor as she gets out of her post-coital bed.  It’s very naughty; you can almost feel them being pulled on.  As with the casting of Gary Oldman as the exorcising rabbi,

No, I didn't take this myself; it's what the studio thought would best represent the film.

Yes, this is the still they chose to promote the film.

2009 is going to have a tough time topping that.

It is thirdly, about Nazis (to which I say 1) enough with the Nazis already, and 2) having seen two Nazi movies in a row, I’m accept that I’m doomed to see The Reader, Good, Valkyrie, Defiance, and The Strange Case of Benjamin Button [you’re telling me that he travels through the 20th Century and doesn’t bump into Hitler?]. And when I discover that Bride Wars is about Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway’s dilemma that they both want the Reichstadt for their weddings – on the same day – I won’t be surprised).

To The Unborn’s credit, it goes to a place that no one has, perhaps one that was inevitable.  And while the ubiquitous evil child in question is a victim of Josef Mengele’s experiments, it is, nevertheless, the first time that a child victim of the holocaust is baddie in a horror film.  Which leads to a rather unfortunate choice of words, which I wrote down just to be sure: “It has fallen upon you to finish was begun in Auschwitz.”  I would have been offended by that, only I had just seen the title for the New York Post review of the aforementioned The Reader:

“Death Camp for Cutie.”

Look it up.

To recap: good gags, cute girls, and a strangely casual tastelessness about the holocaust.  But all this, even the tastelessness about the holocaust, comes at a price: a plot that takes nonsensical to new heights.  I don’t remember much, but there’s this dybbuk who sometimes inhabits bodies, and sometimes doesn’t.  It’s all powerful, unless you yell at it really loud.  And even though it seems to have no problem entering everyone else’s body, thus ensuring its entry into the human world and armageddon, it’s willing to forgo this to inhabit Odette Yustman (which it could have done at any time, but I guess didn’t feel like it), presumably waiting for the chance of a possessed shower or two.

Fair enough.

So we will pay a price in 2009, a price of random events disguised as plot.  We only hope there are enough potato bugs living in fried eggs to make up for it.  And upon exiting the Santa Monica 7, we came upon this portentous standee (and let’s hope that’s the only time you ever hear the phrase ‘portentous standee’):

Somewhere in the world, there's a young girl with two very special pieces of cardboard.

Somewhere in the world, there are one-half, and three-quarters, of a Jonas Brothers’ head, respectively.

Does this mean that we will see the beheading of a Jonas Brother, and the partial beheading of another Jonas Brother?  In 3D?

Signs point to yes.


It can be said, and it is true, that a nonsensical film may survive on its nonsense.
Total Profits


Total Losses


Thoughts on The Unborn

  1. Nathan says:

    The bestest part of the picture, in my estimation, comes just after the aforementioned creepy boy/dog with boy mask/fetus in a jar bit. It turns out to be just a dream (damn!) and so Odette calls her Sassy Black Friend to ask her what she thinks the dream was all about. Now, any scenarist worth his Syd Field would have Sassy Black Friend say “Dag, girl, we need to go to da club. Sounds like you need to get some freak on!”

    Instead, SBF deadpans “Your vagina is diseased.”

    Don’t tell me Goyer didn’t scribble “Suck it, Mankiewicz” in the margins next to that.

Annoyed? Prove it!

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.