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Fright Fest: The Unborn (2009)

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Released in 2009, The Unborn stars Odette Yustman as Casey Beldon, a young woman who begins experiencing strange things after babysitting a young couple’s two small children. While babysitting, Casey thinks she hears one of the children stirring, so, of course, she goes upstairs to investigate. She discovers the four-year-old son holding a mirror in front of his baby sister’s face. When Casey confronts him, the boy casually looks up and says, “Jumby is ready to be born now,” before smacking her in the face. Supposedly, superstition dictates that an infant shouldn’t see his/her reflection until he/she reaches a year old, and if they do, it means the baby will die.

Does the baby die? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Anyway, Casey has weird recurring dreams about finding a blue glove while she’s out jogging…a glove that belongs to a child. She picks up the glove and turns around to find a creepy little boy staring at her.

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She confides in her best friend, Romy, (played by Meagan Good) and her boyfriend, Mark, (played by Cam Gigandet) who tries to dismiss Casey’s fear with a number of various excuses. Meanwhile, one of Casey’s eyes begins changing color, which leads her to contact an eye doctor.

During her visit, the doctor suggests that Casey must be a twin, to which she replies that she’s an only child. More investigating leads her to question her father, who reveals Casey had a twin brother who died in utero when her umbilical cord became wrapped around his neck.  Although neither child was named that early in the pregnancy, the boy’s nickname was “Jumby.”

Now, what I’ve failed to mention until this point is that Casey’s mother committed suicide after an apparently bad episode of depression. Trying to find out why she killed herself, Casey begins exploring some of her mother’s things and comes across an article cut from a newspaper regarding a Holocaust survivor. Casey visits the old woman armed with a creepy photo and the newspaper article, to find out the connection between the two.

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The old woman, Sofi, freaks out when Casey shows her the photo and denies knowing Casey’s mother, but then calls her later on and says she was lying. After meeting with Sofie again, Casey discovers she’s Sofie’s granddaughter and that she too, was once a twin. Her twin brother died in a German concentration camp. Sofie reveals that the spirit of Casey’s unborn twin brother is caught between earth and Hell, and is trying to find a way to cross over.

Things become weirder as time passes and Casey learns that there is a spirit that preys on twins, and becomes progressively stronger from each being it passes through. It begins with insects, then moves on to small animals, larger animals, and well, you get the point. It’s looking for a twin who’s lost a sibling and will stop at nothing to get what it wants, even killing Casey’s friends and family.

Casey turns to a rabbi to help her. Rabbi Sendak, (played by Gary Oldman) agrees to perform a Jewish exorcism on the woman, and the procedure begins. As always, the demon is driven away, and although a few deaths occur, there is sort of a happy ever after.

Now, this is the part where I tell you what I thought of this movie. Before I begin, though, I have to disclose that my favorite horror film of all time is The Exorcist...the original exorcism film. All others tend to fail miserably, in my opinion. That said, The Unborn does have its moments.

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Some of the special effects in The Unborn were very well done. There is one scene, in particular, that stands out. The demon visits Sofie in the nursing home and inhabits a man who’s had a stroke. Normally, the old man is a prisoner in his own mind, unable to speak or move, but with his “visitor,” he chases Sofie around in a scene reminiscent of the spider walk in The Exorcist. Very creepy. Unfortunately, many of the special effects in the film were shown in the trailer, so there was little in the way of a “wow factor” during the film itself.

Let’s move on to the plot. Yawn. Oh, sorry. Did I do that out loud?

Since The Exorcist premiered in 1973, directors and producers have been trying to recapture that magic in exorcism movies, and, as I said earlier, most fail abysmally. Although the premise of this movie was somewhat original, (Can something haunt you if it was never born?) the story progresses quite predictably. The weirdness starts small and grows exponentially in the hour and a half film until the afflicted seeks outside help. The outside help, in this case, the rabbi, tries to tell Casey she’s got mental issues instead of believing her at first. He soon takes her side and agrees to help.

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I felt the exorcism scene in The Unborn was rushed, totally unrealistic, and completely unfulfilling. The demon bounces around from person to person kills a few people and is suddenly gone. Yawn. Been there, done that. Several times. Perhaps, if you’ve seen one exorcism film, you’ve seen them all.

The acting was mediocre at best. Nothing spectacular, and I did expect a little more from Gary Oldman. There are the gratuitous shots of Casey in her underwear and one subdued sex scene that I felt was necessary to show how close Casey and Mark were. At the beginning, Casey was a little wooden, a cookie cutter victim, but she got a little better as the movie advanced.

For those not quite as versed in horror as I am, you may like this film. There are far too many pointless scare attempts in this film for my taste, but some people like that kind of thing. It has a slightly creepy vibe throughout, but as for true terror, it falls flat. For those of us who struggle to find something to scare us, or, at the very least, creep us out, this film was a bit of a letdown. If you’re looking for a Jewish take on The Exorcist, this is it, although I’ve never heard anyone say, “Gee, what would happen if a Jewish rabbi performed an exorcism?”

All in all, The Unborn didn’t totally suck, but it’s not a movie I will watch again.

 

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Dawn Cano (aka The Queen of Extreme Horror) is no stranger to Machine Mean. Miss Cano has always been a fan of horror, she loves everything about the genre and has just begun her journey into the world of horror writing. When not pounding away at the keyboard, she can be found reviewing books and movies for The Ginger Nuts of Horror and wasting time on Facebook. Dawn has also started what will no doubt be a fantastic career as a storyteller. You can find her books, including Sleep Deprived and Bucket List, *Warning: Some Scenes May Disturb for both of these wonderfully gruesome tales. And you can check out her previous review of Frankensteinhere.

And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.

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