As it forges ahead without explanations, The Unborn works in its way, as a series of snap-cut gotchas introducing each new contestant in its pageant of cold-sweat set-pieces. Often, this involves starlet Odette Yustman approaching some obscured, inevitably terrifying figure from behind, very...very...slowly. Yustman plays Casey, a well-heeled young suburbanite who's been having bad dreams. The night terrors begin to infest her waking life when, while babysitting one of those whey-faced grade-schoolers who populate modern horror films as if by quota, the kiddie cryptically intones: "Jumby wants to be born now." Trying to figure out what exactly that means leads Casey and The Unborn into a thicket of exposition involving suicided mothers, Nazi mad geneticists, and kabbalah/Jewish folklore. The titular reference to from-the-womb haunting is only an afterthought; The Unborn more fully belongs to the durable exorcism subgenre, complete with a climactic exorcism-by-committee that plays like a pan-denominational p.c. update of The Exorcist's implicit verification of Catholicism's One True Faith. Tune out the battle royale bombast, and start wondering where to eat after the movie.
Odette Yustman sees well, you know what she sees.
Opens at Lincoln Square and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 9. Rated PG-13. 88 minutes.