Screenwriter David S Goyer’s literate work on Christopher Nolan’s Batman has little relation to his work here as writer and director. The Unborn is a by-the-numbers fright-flick elevated by a resonant grounding in Jewish supernatural lore. Played in various states of undress by skinny-malink Odette Yustman, Casey Baldon believes that he’s being haunted by a dybbuk, an evil spirit attempting to use her dead twin as a portal into our world. Casey’s search for more information leads her to Sofi (Jane Alexander), a concentration-camp survivor who inspires Casey to enlist the credulous Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman) to organise an abortive exorcism that unleashes the dybbuk’s fearsome power in a display of absurd Hollywood pyrotechnics.
Goyer’s penchant for spectacular aerial shots of Chicago attests to Nolan’s influence, but there’s some flair in his set-pieces including an impressive hallucinatory sequence in a nightclub toilet that rips-off Polanski’s Repulsion. And while Goyer’s attempts to create gravity with allusions to Auschwitz is distasteful, the imagery associated with the dybbuk itself is rendered in disconcerting style, making The Unborn a small cut above most formula US horrors.
General release from Fri 27 Feb.