Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique Online asked me if I would be willing to write an article each month that provided an analysis of certain aspects of fantastic cinema. I was all too happy to accept the invitation. The first article, “Of Folklore and Fatherhood: THE UNBORN and Cinematic Reflection,” has been posted here, and below is an excerpt:
Two additional elements of THE UNBORN held special appeal for me and are worthy of further reflection. First, although the film touches on the issues of possession and exorcism, common elements from any number of horror films since the 1970s, it does so by way of different source material. In the United States, most past possession and demonological films such as THE EXORCIST and THE OMEN, to more recent efforts such as THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, have tended to find their narrative grounding for the supernatural in the Christian tradition with its concepts of God, Satan, and possession. THE UNBORN breaks new ground in basing its narrative in Jewish folklore and mysticism. The movie’s heroine, Casey Beldon (played by Odette Yustman), comes to discover that her nightmares and ghostly visitations are the result of a dybbuk, defined by the Encyclopedia Britanica online as “a disembodied human spirit that, because of former sins, wanders restlessly until it finds a haven in the body of a living person.” In order to learn more about how to combat this supernatural creature Casey consults a volume of Jewish mysticism from the Kabbalah. Given that the text is written in Hebrew, Casey visits Rabbi Sendak, a skeptical clergyman who is eventually forced by his own supernatural experiences to come to grips with the reality of the situation facing her.