People hate light switches in The Unborn. They find themselves, in three connected scenes, flicking them on and off no less than ten times. At least one character is smart enough to look outside to see if other lights are on to determine if the storm outside was the cause of it.
That said, characters tend to do odd things throughout the movie. In the opening scene alone, Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) stops her morning jog, stares at a discarded glove laying on the street, and for some mysterious reason, finds it curious. Is the audience supposed to be scared? If so, it fails, because most people are going to wonder why anyone would stop on a deserted jogging trail to pick up a random blue glove.
The Unborn is one of those horror movies, and the term “horror” is used loosely here, where time is stretched thin. Movies are required to hit a certain running time to be considered feature length, and Unborn struggles to make it.
Included are dreadfully boring scenes of explanation, of course by an old woman who turns out to be related to Casey. In some long-winded exposition, we learn the spiritual anomaly affecting Casey is somehow connected to a Nazi death camp, where a young boy was killed and came back to life.
This of course means the old woman will meet her fate at the hands of this disturbance, which happens to take place in the worst nursing home in the country. None of the night staff hears her screaming, falling down stairs, a wheelchair tipping over, or comes to investigate when the lights go out. Someone deserves a refund on their healthcare bill.
Unborn doesn’t even follow its own rules. We’re told before an exorcism in an impossibly drawn out conversation, that a priest will read in Hebrew, while others translate (apparently for no reason other than to include the audience; subtitles are such a pain). When needed, the movie changes that rule so when the priest is the only one left who can read, it’s all in plain English.
It used to be that kids would at least have to think about how to sneak into a horror movie before they rot their brains with junk like this. Now they can walk in thanks to the PG-13, and they end up being cheated out of the best parts, and anything resembling a good movie. How times have changed. The best part of Unborn? Imagining how the actors kept a straight face through the filming process.
Universal delivers a strong VC-1 encode with some sporadic, notable issues. Detail is exceptional, helped along by an excellent level of sharpness. Blacks are deep, although black crush is significant from time to time.
The film is drenched in a blue hue, apparently a color that makes horror movies scarier. However, flesh tones are surprisingly accurate. Unborn has issues in darker scenes though, especially during the conversation at the 40 minute mark, where a definite drop in detail causes a murky, sub-par quality to seep into the transfer. It happens in a few other spots as well, which is a shame considering how close this disc is to perfection.
A DTS-HD track is relatively mundane, the biggest disappointment being a subdued rattle in the low end. The sub never makes it to full volume. Surrounds kick in nicely during the exorcism, with whipping winds and positional voices. A club scene early in the film is marginal in terms of its immersion. Since the film’s “scares” are weak, it tends to overpower the sound field to generate a jolt in the viewer, causing a volume imbalance.
Despite making a depressing profit at the box office, the film comes with six minutes of deleted scenes and generic BD-Live support. Can you blame anyone involved for not wanting to talk about it during a commentary?