Odette Yustman, The Unborn

Rogue Pictures

Review in a Hurry: A coed engages in a battle of unwits with a remarkably persistent but stupid evil spirit. Probably the funniest film of the year so far; then again, it's early, and it's not supposed to be funny.

The Bigger Picture: Talk about being born under a bad sign: college student Casey (Odette Yustman), haunted by bad dreams and hallucinations, discovers she had a twin brother who died in the womb. Is this what's driving the plague of bugs and the bug-eyed toddler currently terrorizing her? No, it isn't, though it'd be preferable to the hash of mythology and backstory thrown together in The Unborn, because at least the point would become clear that much faster.

Instead we get smidgens of Kabbalah, Nazi experiments and hoary superstition, all of which fail to account for two things: first, the actual source of Casey's haunting, and second, the reason that nothing particularly scary or significant happens during the first hour of the movie. (Other than a festival of unintentional laughter, that is—painfully forced scare setups, clumsy and credulous dialogue and inept casting all play their part.)

When at last the trail of bread crumbs—followed with an alarming lack of intellectual curiosity by our heroine considering her life is at stake—leads to a rabbi who could hopefully explain everything, it's...Gary Oldman. Looking every bit as bewildered as his character to be turning up in a horror movie and likewise absolutely no help whatsoever.

Writer/director David S. Goyer, whose niche as a screenwriter is in adapting comic-book tales, gets a few frightening images into the frame, but they're all one-off shocks that do nothing to build tension. There's a sense of dread that lingers throughout The Unborn, it's true; it's fear that you're going to have to watch the blank-faced Yustman sleepwalk through another played-out dream sequence. It would all be better off unwatched.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Have you ever seen Gary Oldman blow the shofar? Well, now you have. Check that off the list.

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