Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Unborn

I See Demonic Kids

Written and directed by David S. Goyer, who is still in his infancy in being at the helm of feature films, but no stranger to writing screenplays from the horror genre to the reboot of the Batman franchise, you would have thought that he might have steered clear of the usual cliches that plague a horror film. Imagine that the following all made it to his film The Unborn - mirrors, demonic kids, setting in toilets, insects, darkened corridors, dogs, haunting nightmares, and of course, a pretty woman in the lead.

If you'd think Odette Yustman is such a familiar face, then perhaps you would remember that this pretty face had the power to influence a guy and his friends to trek halfway across a city to save her from a leaning skyscraper, while a monster rampages New York City in Cloverfield. Such is her influence, and here, she's Casey Beldon, a teenager whose mom had inexplicably hung herself, and her dad being conveniently out of town the entire time she's in distress. Her influence? Being able to arrest everyone's attention in having the assets to prance around in undies (camel toe alert!), and convincing that she's not a nutcase imagining things, to have a rabbi (Gary Oldman, what a surprise actually) help her perform an exorcism on herself. She's the new Helen of Troy.

Not slamming Goyer's story for the sake of doing so, as he actually had quite an interesting tale involving some bits of history, the phenomenon of twins, the kabbalah thrown together in a nice mish-mash. If a horror film needed a reason for you to anchor your disbelief to in order to enjoy some illogical moments of scare, then Goyer had a wealth of subplots and rationale going on. Unfortunately, the pacing was a bit strange as the middle portion really sagged and got bogged down by uninteresting, supporting characters such as Meagon Good as Casey's BFF Romy and a fair weathered boyfriend (well, more like forgotten for the most parts) Mark Hardigan (Cam Gigandet from Twilight).

I suspect that there probably was some unceremonious tinkering to the story, or in having some sections rearranged during post, which accounts for the rather choppy narrative. Some parts didn't gel too well, and stuck out like a sore thumb when you feel that it's chronologically messy. There were very little scary moments, to my surprise, though I had to admit there were some "instant" scare moments that genuinely made me (ahem, and the audience) jump at our seats. Credit too has to be given to the make up team, and the special effects crew for rigging some really insane visuals, though the spidery walking scene with heads upside down reminded me of The Exorcist.

And if homage is Goyer's idea here, then there were additional attempts, and the one which made me burst our laughing, was the mention that holy books and instructional manuals on shooing the devil away, are only effective if the users truly have immense faith and belief in this sort of things. Fright Night was the film that said something similar to the effect that it stuck on me, and hearing something along the same lines just cracked me up.

But a comedy this is not, just that it's quite economical in the way this is shot, relying on the usual build ups and the cliche springing of surprises when you (least) expected them to. If only the finale didn't degenerate into an all out, free for all action fest given the keen anticipation it had built up, nor if it had resembled Fallen too in a way of how the ghouls here are capable of travelling, this would probably have been a more than above average flick.

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