Unborn But Forgotten DVD Review

Written by Sham

DVD released by Tartan Films USA

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Directed by Im Change-Jae
Written by Han Hyun-Geun
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 90 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on October 11th, 2005

Starring:
Jun-ho Jeong as Lee Seok
Eun-ju Lee as Han Su-jin

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Review:

In 1998, a film redefined the horror genre by putting audiences in the position of its characters. If you watched a certain videotape, the movie revealed, you would die in seven days. And what did it do next? It showed you the videotape. Would you, the innocent viewer, die in one week?

Ringu, one of the first films of Hideo Nakata’s directing career, was a tremendous success, both at the box office and in the minds of moviegoers around the world. Since its premiere, imitations, sequels, prequels, remakes, and even parodies have been released, all containing the same informing admonition – if you look at something you’re not supposed to, you could die in a matter of days.

Unborn but Forgotten is one of the many films influenced by Ringu’s success. But instead of being closely associated with Ringu, it’s more related to Fear Dot Com, an American-produced film about a website that kills its guests 48 hours after they’ve logged on. Unborn basically follows Fear’s formula, but instead of the time-limit being a mere two days, this movie stretches the character’s survival to fifteen days, ultimately dragging the film far more than it should.

It doesn’t take long for Unborn to become a boring and perplexing mess, jumbling different ideas with no objective for a plausible ending.

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It’s tough to describe the film’s plot points, because they’re hard to find and even harder to comprehend. Essentially, women who visit a specific website called “The White Room” die fifteen days after viewing it. Peculiarly, each of the women who visited the site became pregnant just before dying. Han Su-jin (Eun-ju Lee – The Scarlet Letter) is a hot news reporter looking for a story, and when she stumbles upon the website and its history, she only has fifteen days to crack the case and save her life. A policeman, Lee Seok (Jun-ho Jeong – The Legend of Evil Lake), befriends Lee and helps her in the process.

More ideas come into play, but they’re too confusing to talk about, which leaves me wondering why I mentioned them in the first place.

The script just doesn’t make sense. It is drawn-out to the point of boredom, and at the last minute, it squeezes in all necessary plot twists and story enhancements to “complete” the movie. But not all twists come full circle, as many important plot devices and characters are left forgotten and unexplained.

Principal stars Eun-ju Lee and Jun-ho Jeong are tolerable actors to play the lead roles, but both tend to exaggerate their performances at the wrong times. It’s not awfully distracting, as they each show promise as performers, but promise isn’t enough for them to carry an entire 90 minute film on their shoulders. Unfortunately, actress Lee will never get the chance to attest her potential, as she committed suicide just three years after completing this film. She was only 25 years old.

Director Im Chang-Jae has yet to make another movie, which is only appropriate as he does not have the necessary skills to be a filmmaker. Chang-Jae’s camera angles do not add a sense of dread to the viewer, but rather make us feel sick and nauseated. The disorganization of sequences in the film is terribly sidetracking, bringing up more questions than was probably anticipated by Chang-Jae and screenwriter Han Hyun-Geun.

Unborn, quite simply, should have never been made, and it should be forgotten.

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Video and Audio:

Unborn’s anamorphic widescreen, while not enhanced, is decent. The grain works with the movie, but the washed-out colors and faded hues do not. Ten minutes into the movie, I was yelling at the screen, “Focus!”

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The DTS track is excellent. The actors’ voices match with the subtitles, and the score is never overwhelming of the performers. The bass is good and should add to the supernatural effect of the movie.

Dolby Digital 5.1 is also accessible.

Included on the disc are English and Spanish subtitles.

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Special Features:

  • “On the Set” – Interviews with the Actress and Actor
  • Original Korean Theatrical Trailer
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailers

Beginning the relatively short amount of bonus material on the disc is a 60-minute “On the Set” feature. Honestly one of the most boring on-set visits I’ve ever seen, the camera looms on the actors’ repetitive performances, continuously going over the same thing at least twice. Actors must cry, speak, get shot, receive make-up, get direction, and much other, and much more boring, things in this entirely too long feature that never seemed to end.

Trailers for Face, Oldboy, Wishing Stairs, A Tale of Two Sisters, Phone, and Memento Mori are also included.

The theatrical trailer and a 10-picture photo gallery are the final special features.

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Grades:

Movie: Oneandahalfstars – A confusing and disorganized mess.
Video: Twoandahalfstars – I’ve seen better from Tartan.
Audio: Fourstars – A pleasing DTS track.
Features: Twostars – While the hour on-set visit is the most prominent feature, it’s also the worst.
Overall: Twostars – A bad horror movie on a bad DVD.

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Conclusion:

It’s a shame this was the last horror movie of Eun-ju Lee’s career, as she showed promise as an Asian horror scream-queen.

It’s also a shame that a bad movie like this would ever get picked up by such a well-respected studio like Tartan.

Continue your search for the next Asian gem, and forget this dud even exists.

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