From The Published Archives: The Unborn

The Huffington Post believes that this young lady resembles Megan Fox.  You know, they make a strong case.  But, in truth, she’s not the only Fox doppelganger.

When I screened The Unborn in late August 2009, I couldn’t help but notice how much Odette Yustman resembled the Transformers star.  (Since getting married a few years ago, she’s now known as Odette Annable.)  That observation led to this negative review which originally surfaced on Monkeybiz.ca, long after its second submission, on June 28, 2010.  (It took two tries because my original contact at the site up and quit without telling me and without passing any of my numerous submissions on to the editor.  Once they were re-sent directly to the editor, however, they were properly edited and eventually posted.  I should’ve done that from the start.  Less stressful.)

My original draft ran a little over the accepted limit.  (Monkeybiz prefers critiques to be between 250 and 600 words.)  It ran 632 which explains why some of my bracketed comments were either cut down or removed altogether from the final version (among some other significant edits).  For this archival reposting, those comments have been restored.  I’ve also made some other minor changes and restorations mainly because I’m finicky.

Ultimately, I’ve decided to maintain much of the MonkeyBiz version because, for the most part, it was superior to my original submission.  I have a tendency to be overlong at times which necessitates tighter edits, like the ones employed for this review.  Plus, I misspelled Carla Gugino’s last name as Cugino.  Sometimes it’s good to have an editor.

Since The Unborn came and went four years ago, Annable has kept busy with recurring roles on House and Brothers & Sisters as well as appearing in the occasional feature film.  But she’s yet to have that breakthrough role.  Maybe she should read my advice at the end of this critique and take it into consideration.

Then again, maybe not.  What the hell do I know?

The Unborn: A Movie Review

Posted on June 28 2010 under Arts & Entertainment
By Dennis Earl

Odette Yustman has a real problem. With her long, flowing black hair, haunting eyes and stunning good looks, she could easily pass for Megan Fox.

Normally, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but for an actress trying to make a name for herself on her own terms, being mistaken for someone more famous can only take you so far. Her striking resemblance to the Transformers heroine is a big distraction in The Unborn, a cross between The Omen and Invasion of The Body Snatchers that is not very scary.

In the film, Yustman plays Casey, a college student haunted by bad dreams and brief glimpses of an Eddie Munster wannabe. Her mother (the lovely but completely silent Carla Gugino) died in the nuthouse under mysterious circumstances when she was little. Her father (James Remar in a rare, brief good guy role) has raised her ever since.

After a little boy slices Casey in the eye during a fateful babysitting gig, weirder things start happening. She hears noises coming from her medicine cabinet. While cracking open an egg one morning, a creepy-crawly mysteriously pops out. A baby she looked after the night she got hurt has suddenly died.

Once her father informs her that she had a twin brother who died in utero, Casey starts rummaging through her mother’s old items in a desperate hunt for clues. She stumbles across an old article about a Holocaust survivor (Jane Alexander) who, thankfully, is still alive and living in a retirement home.

For some unexplained reason, instead of telling the poor girl what she knows and how she can help her through her ordeal, the Holocaust survivor denies ever knowing Casey’s mother at all and freaks out over one of the pictures she’s shown.

But in a later scene she summons Casey by phone to an emergency meeting to pass on to her all the precious information she could have offered in the earlier encounter.

Meanwhile, except for the Holocaust survivor, neither Casey’s boyfriend Mark (Cam Gigandet), her best friend Romy (Meagan Good), nor a rabbi (Gary Oldman) she consults on the advice of the Holocaust survivor believe she’s in any serious danger.

As the movie crawls from one scene to the next, it’s puzzling why we should take any of this seriously. It’s not frightening, it’s not interesting and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

That being said, the idea of an eye colour experiment unintentionally opening a portal to a netherworld of dastardly spirits has potential, but why would those evil entities want to cross over in the first place? What’s in it for them, exactly? Do they want to rule the world hiding in human bodies? Are they starved for sex after years of going without? Do they want redemption in the form of new lives?

The Unborn could care less about following through on any of these possibilities. It’s too lazy to even bring them up in passing.

The film does have its merits. Good has a couple of funny lines (when she’s not being mean) and Oldman is convincing as the mild-mannered rabbi (especially when he speaks in Hebrew). Elements of Ramin Djawadi’s score are effective, particularly the end title theme.

But the film’s supernatural storyline is neither scary nor believable. Yustman, the Megan Fox doppelganger, does not have much of a character to play. Despite having the most screen time of any actor in the film, I never felt compelled enough to root for her.

If Yustman desires permanent leading lady status, she needs to do two important things: change her look and seek out stronger material. Only then will we know her true capabilities.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 5, 2013
6:54 p.m.

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Published in: on May 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] previously published assessments of Paranormal Activity, Assassins, Jennifer’s Body and The Unborn.  All but one of those last four originally seen on […]

  2. […] on the site after months of uncertainty, as documented in that first link.  (Two more reviews of The Unborn and Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal would follow two months later, as would a fifth, […]


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