The year is only a week old and already the cinema gods have bestowed upon us a candidate for most awesome catchword of the year: Jumby! The utterance in question comes courtesy of The Unborn, a magnificently bad PG-13 ghost story from David S. Goyer, whose latest shares not only a city (Chicago) and co-star (Gary Oldman) with his prior screenwriting endeavor, The Dark Knight, but also seems to have borrowed some of that film’s second-unit aerial photography of the nighttime metropolis. Filching Christopher Nolan even further might have been wise, given the horror lunacy Goyer comes up with, all of which revolves around a skinny knockout named Casey (Megan Fox lookalike Odette Yustman) whom Goyer droolingly shoots in revealing tank tops and microscopic panties and whose twin brother was strangled, in utero by her umbilical cord, thus forever dooming him to be known only by his pre-birth nickname: Jumby!
When not having Yustman pirouette so his camera can linger on her teensy-weensy ass, Goyer drowns every other image in slow motion, usually including heavy rain or quick glimpses of Jumby, a howling adolescent specter with a gaunt, cracked face who’s actually an evil supernatural Kabbalah spirit first brought into this world, accidentally, by German concentration camp eugenicists obsessed with altering eye color. Superficial talk of twins’ paranormal bonds, the universe’s infinite nature, and Jewish folklore, as well as a patently loopy multi-faith exorcism run by Oldman’s rabbi and Idris Elba’s Episcopal priest in a derelict church-cum-wind-tunnel, all compete for attention with increasingly comical results. Meanwhile, horror films’ typical racial pecking order—African-American beauty Meagan Good’s bitch gets knifed and Elba’s man of the cloth is transformed into a rampaging black monster—is dutifully maintained.
As unintentionally goofy as Unborn may be, highlighted by Casey warily investigating a public bathroom glory hole that spouts goo-covered bugs, Goyer remains a faithful genre disciple, shouting out to the infamous crab-walk deleted scene from The Exorcist via the sight of a demonically controlled man crawling after his prey with his head turned upside-down. It’s one of many instances in which the elderly are exploited for either disparaging laughs or grotesque chills, though one can hardly blame the possessed senior citizen himself, who is, after all, just getting Jumby with it.