In a world bereft of rationality, such as that of popular Hollywood, Odette Yustman could play the slightly-younger sister (or, heck, even twin) of somebody like Jessica Alba, and it's fitting that their careers seem to be synching up. Almost a year to the day after Alba started seeing ghosts from a pair of haunted peepers in The Eye, Yustman begins seeing ghosts because -- well, gosh, I don't know why -- in David S. Goyer's sophomore effort as writer/director, The Unborn.
Yustman plays Casey Beldon, a college student who suddenly begins seeing scorpions in her eggs, dogs with masks, and all sorts of other crazy things. Her doctor gives her the boring reason: genetic mosaicism, a retinal irregularity usually seen in twins. It takes her Holocaust-survivor grandmother (Jane Alexander) to root out the real, much more evil reason, and, as per usual, the Nazis are involved. The reason that creepy blue-eyed zombie child keeps following her around has something to do with experiments done on Casey's great uncle in Auschwitz that naturally turned him into a mythical Jewish demon named Dybbuk. And it's up to Gary Oldman, as a Rabbi, to exorcize the malicious bugger.
In a deeply generic sense, Yustman is very nice to look at. The California-born twentysomething, who you may remember as the innocuous love interest of the equally-plain lead in last year's Cloverfield, has silky dark hair, a model's face, and a body that looks good in a bathing suit or plain-old underwear. Goyer knows this and that is why, I assume, he cast her in Unborn, which features at least two scenes where the camera is fixed firmly on the actress's white-cotton-covered derriere. Even the initial poster for the film highlights this attribute.
Not much else is pulling focus, though, including the cavalcade of mutated demons that start going after Casey's loved ones, including the obligatory best friend (Meagan Good). The useless boyfriend character is played by Cam Gigandet, who successfully played villains in two movies last year (Twilight, Never Back Down) but plays nice here like he's overdosed on Ambien. Along with Oldman, quality actors like Idris Alba (from HBO's The Wire) and Carla Gugino (Sin City, the ludicrously-anticipated Watchmen) are regulated to bit parts that could have been played by marginally-talented pistachio nuts.
Like its kin in the seemingly endless onslaught of J-horror remakes and rip-offs, The Unborn has the psychological weight and perversity of a mildly racy episode of Touched by an Angel and garners most of its shocks from simple auditory stimuli. Blaring, cold, and blunt, the film's sound design replaces every chance at genuine fright with loud noise. Amongst its many other cardinal sins, Goyer's film ends on a note of irrefutable sequel-baiting that makes the previous 90 minutes of incoherence even more infuriating.
Ah, just like when my kids were born.