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The Unborn: Promising Horror for January 2009

My friends and neighbors who know of my interest in horror and other aspects of the fantastic assume that I enjoy every film connected with the genre. Many times I am asked if I have seen the television ads for a new film and whether I am going, and my answer is often that I have seen the ads, but no I’m not going because the film doesn’t look like it will be any good. I’m pretty discriminating in my consumption of the fantastic. But I must admit that the trailer for a new horror film has caught my attention.

Over the last couple of days ads have been running for The Unborn which opens in theaters January 9. The website for the film provides the following synopsis:

Sometimes the soul of a dead person has been so tainted with evil that it is denied entrance to heaven. It must endlessly wander the borderlands between worlds, desperately searching for a new body to inhabit.

And sometimes it actually succeeds.

Writer/director David Goyer (Blade: Trinity, The Invisible, Batman Begins) gives a terrifyign glimpse into the life of a young woman pulled into a world of the undead in The Unborn, a supernatural thriller that follows a young woman pulled into a world of nightmares when a demonic spirit haunts her and threatens everyone she loves.

Casey Bell (Odette Yustman) hated her mother for leaving her as a child. But when unexplicable things start to happen, Casey begins to understand why she left. Plagued by merciless dreams and a tortured ghost that haunts her waking hours, she must turn to the only spiritual advisor, Sendak (Gary Oldman), who can make it stop.

With Sendak’s help, Casey uncovers the source of a family curse dating back to Nazi Germany – a creature with the ability to inhabit anyone or anything that is getting stronger with each possession. With the curse unleashed, her only chance at survival is to shut a doorway from beyond our world that has been pried open by someone who was never born.

Several elements make this film look intriguing for me. First, I have enjoyed the director’s previous work, particularly in Blade: Trinity and Batman Begins. Second, Gary Oldman is a veteran actor with experience in horror and fantasy films (such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Dark Knight and others) who should help bring credibility not only to his own role but perhaps also to the project as a whole. Third, the trailer for the film includes some arresting visual imagery that promise to provide a dimension of fright to the film.

From the storyline and visuals it is possible to detect a number of influences in the film which also add to the expectations. These include demon possession and exorcism elements from films like The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, demonic children from influences such as The Omen series of films, ghost story elements from any number of horror films, and the influence of Japanese horror cinema and its American remakes in narrative and visual elements.

Perhaps I’ll be disappointed after January 9 like many other horror fans. But at least The Unborn gives me something to look forward to in horror for the first part of 2009.

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