The Unborn [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Shout! Factory
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (28th October 2018).
The Film

The idea of having a narcissistic, deranged doctor impregnate unsuspecting, desperate women with “superhuman” fetuses in an attempt to steer human evolution sounds frightening… if this was real life. On film, well, the results leave much to be desired. Despite being produced by the legendary Roger Corman and directed by Rodman Flender, whose “Idle Hands” (1999) is still a fun freaky blast “The Unborn” (1991) is – to pick some low-hanging fruit – a picture that should have been aborted early in the production process. Woefully paced, frantically acted, and mostly just plain ol’ boring the film is Corman & Flender’s love letter to mutant baby pictures, specifically Larry Cohen’s “It’s Alive” trilogy (1974-1987). Unfortunately, and surprisingly, Corman wasn’t able to bring much of a B-movie/exploitation vibe to the picture, leaving it zonked out like a patient on too much valium.

Virginia (Brooke Adams) and her husband, Brad (Jeff Hayenga), have been trying to conceive for a long time with no luck in sight. Virginia, dejected and begrudgingly accepting of her barren womb, agrees to see a new doctor, Dr. Richard Meyerling (James Karen), whose techniques have made him the foremost authority on helping women with no hope carry a child. Dr. Meyerling fills Virginia with all the confidence in the world, assuring her he can see she is impregnated with a healthy baby. Not long after Virginia is elated to learn she is with child. Her friend, Connie (Kathy Griffin, in her first credited role), is a lesbian who runs a Lamaze class with a decidedly anti-male agenda – how 2018 of her! – and she, too, has found success with Meyerling’s methods.

But red flags begin popping up when Virginia is issued a warning from another patient that Meyerling isn’t what he claims – and the babies he’s helping to create may not belong to their respective mothers. Virginia agrees to meet with this patient the next day… and we all know how those plans turn out in a horror movie. These Meyerling pregnancies have a strong mental effect on the mothers, too, turning normal women into raving lunatics. And the cravings go beyond pickles and peanut butter to something a bit more sanguine, like murder. Virginia is convinced the baby inside is not truly hers but can she disassociate from the life within and take it before she births something inhuman?

Oh, this film is such a bore. Blame can be laid at the feet of Corman and Flender since all decisions on set are ultimately made by them, but every project starts with a script – and this one was written by the same duo behind “Catwoman” (2004) and “Terminator Salvation” (2009). To be fair, they also wrote “The Game” (1997) but that film owes the lion’s share of its success more to David Fincher than the screenplay, which breaks down when subjected to scrutiny. The biggest issue is very little happens in the film and when something shocking does occur it’s not very exciting. The best bit of business in the film is a catfight between a pregnant woman and her partner, which isn’t a whole lot in a movie about superhuman fetuses. The worst business, easily, is anything with the newborn Hulk baby, which is apparently super powerful despite looking premature and deformed. It stabs a dude in the face with ease; meanwhile this guy could’ve kicked it eight ways to Sunday with minimal effort.

If there’s anything interesting about this film it’s the score; or, at least it should be the score. This is one of only two films ever scored by Gary Numan – yes, that Gary Numan – and, oddly enough, both feature central characters who are pregnant. Numan’s albums are often synth-laden soundscapes with alien instrumentation and, in later years, a hard edge. This score contains none of those traits, coming off like any other generic thriller. Massively disappointing – kinda like the film itself.

Just to show I don’t want to shit all over every aspect of the production I will say the sterile, modern sets are attractive. James Karen is great to watch when he isn’t whining his head off, like in “Return of the Living Dead Part II” (1988). Brooke Adams acts the hell out of her role despite being given such poor material. Also, it’s amazing how tolerable Kathy Griffin was early in her career. It’s also amazing what plastic surgery can do because she barely resembles the plasticine creature cavorting around under her name these days. I’d love to credit the FX work but that baby just looks so terrible. Other FX gags work well enough, though, so there’s that. Eh, it’s something.

Video

The 1.85:1 1080p 24/fps HD 1080p using AVC MPEG-4 compression image is largely average across the board, which isn’t such a bad thing. Film grain is active. The picture is slightly soft with occasional moments that impress. Colors are accurate and natural. The palette here is sterile and subdued, with many shades of white in use. Skin tones appear warm and lifelike. The only prior release was a full-frame DVD, so to say this is an upgrade would be an understatement.

Audio

An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo track capably delivers clean and balanced dialogue alongside a roster of impact-less sound effects. Numan’s score doesn’t do much so the lossless availability isn’t exactly used to great effect. Subtitles are available in English.

Extras

An audio commentary is included, featuring Producer/Director Rodman Flender and Filmmaker Adam Simon.

A theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 42 seconds.

Packaging

The single disc is housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

“The Unborn” should’ve stayed that way. Killer baby movies are a tough sell to begin with – you need to have other elements in play to maintain viewer interest while the evil spawn cooks within. This film failed to provide even the faintest shocks and twists, becoming little more than a low-budget bore.

The Film: D+ Video: B Audio: B Extras: D+ Overall: C-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.