Unborn (2022) Review
Rosemary’s Baby was published in 1967, the movie version premiered a year later, and its influence is still being felt. There’s been an unending stream of films about women who are carrying babies fathered, or possessed by, an assortment of devils, demons and extraterrestrials. The latest Tubi Original, Unborn, (not to be confused with The Unborn or any of several other films with the same title), is the latest example.
Rachel’s (Jade Harlow, The Bay, Who Wants Me Dead?) mother (Roslyn Gentledied, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Punisher) dies on her wedding day, casting a dark shadow over the joyous occasion. Two years later she and her wife Amber (Ella Thomas, The Queen of Hollywood Blvd, Surrogates) are about to become parents. While we do get a montage of puking scenes, morning sickness is the least of the complications associated with her pregnancy. An ultrasound reveals not just that it’s a girl, but the face of Rachel’s mother as well. Amber’s mother says it’s a blessing, a sign she’s watching over her. Rachel’s sudden nosebleed says otherwise.
Writer Joe Rechtman (Honor Student) and director Steven R. Monroe (Harland Manor, Teardrop) quickly give us conflict on two fronts as Rachel begins feeling like people are treating her differently, “Like I’m just some kind of incubator.” since she became pregnant. There are also much stranger goings-on, things like a random guy at a coffee shop flipping out on her, and a visitation from her mother’s ghost warning her that someone plans to take the baby. Is it coincidence, stress, or something more sinister?
Since Unborn is a horror film and one with none of the subtlety or ambiguity of Rosemary’s Baby, we find out pretty quickly. Dr. Fern (Stephan Smith Collins, Pinhead from Hellraiser: Revelations) listens to the baby’s heartbeat and kills himself in front of Rachel. But not before uttering a cryptic message about Lilith.
From here Unborn dives into a rabbit hole filled with cults, family secrets, demons and a pair of cops Detectives Peters (Javier Calderon, Robot Wars, Paradise Cove) and Kwan (Rich Ting, All of Us Are Dead, No Name and Dynamite). Of course, this also takes its toll on Rachel and Amber’s relationship.
After having to chug multiple cans of C4 to stay awake through Harland Manor, I wasn’t expecting much from Unborn. But it’s actually a fairly decent time killer with plenty going on. While a lot of it is what you would expect from a film like this, such as a visit to a psychic (Gigi Bermingham, General Hospital, Days of Our Lives) that goes horribly wrong, it does manage to throw a few surprises at the viewers. That’s especially true in the final act, when the film’s cult and conspiracy aspects really come into play.
What Unborn lacks in gore and effects, and there isn’t much of either, it tries to make up for in action scenes, shootouts, attempted abductions, etc. Obviously, I’d rather see the film stick to scares, but it’s certainly a better approach than having everyone stand around talking. The filmmakers were wise enough to realize the plot wasn’t meant for long conversations, it had to keep moving if it wanted to keep the viewer’s interest. And they made sure it does, one way or another. The result is an agreeably silly film that should keep you entertained, even if you won’t remember it in a couple of weeks.
Unborn is available to watch free with commercials on Tubi if it’s available in your part of the world. And that’s about the right price for it. You can use JustWatch to check for availability where Tubi isn’t available.