PictureThe Unborn comes to blu-ray with a 1080p image encoded using the VC-1 codec and framed within a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
As appears to be the case with all substandard horror films, both remakes and original, of recent years, The Unborn has a wholly pleasing image, key to this impression is the contrast, which remains high throughout. Black levels are solid, with only the most minor occasional lapse into a shade that is a fraction lighter. Lighter colours are affected to a degree by the artistic blue/green tint that the picture adopts, but this is entirely intentional. The exterior shots in particular show off this icy tinge well as our heroine goes jogging through deserted roads in the early morning, surrounded by snowy landscape.
In amongst the darkened tones of the film there is a good amount of shadow detail to be seen. Similarly, textures are nicely picked out, particularly clothing and the finery of Casey's home in closer shots. Skin tones are sound, with the aforementioned hue throwing them towards the cooler side of the spectrum, but they don't fluctuate. The detail on offer is to such a standard that it is unfortunately entirely possible to pick out the imperfections of Yustman's complexion.
There is a fine layer of grain but it never intrudes and gives proceedings a suitably filmic look and complements the clean master perfectly. The only criticism I had was that, whether down to transfer or cinematographer, there were a few moments of slight softness. They were far from the smudged edges of The Da Vinci Code but they were still slightly noticeable in some scenes with low level lighting. Overall though, this is a great presentation that is just slightly below the highest standards of the format.
SoundOn the audio side we have the benefit of numerous DTS language tracks and an English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track which I focused on for the purpose of this review.
Like many chillers that lack the refinement to bring mental scares and psychological frights to the table, this film relies heavily on volume for its “boo” moments. The ability of the track to shake the viewer was clearly paramount to the makers of this disc as it certainly doesn't skimp on the power of such effects. The LFE kicks in with some punch and during prolonged attacks, the breather at the end of it is welcome for both Casey and us.
If anything, I found the sound simply too forceful. The result of focussing on the deeper sounds leaves the mix to an extent unbalanced. There aren't a great degree of atmospheric effects to be handed off to the rears, but the less than major amount that there are, leave the surrounds somewhat underused. As such, the mix seems front focussed, though the soundscape does come across as fairly wide from these speakers, with the score handled particularly well. The high frequencies of the music that signify the impending chills are crisp whilst the deep stringed instruments still resonate pleasingly.
The one area that I had more trouble with was that of the dialogue. I had to crank my amp up several notches above my normal listening levels to get anything near what I would consider intelligible speech, which only served to increase the volume of the booming effects. Subtlety was never likely to be the aim of this mix but I suppose it packs the requisite punch that the film itself lacked. Unsophisticated and a touch unbalanced but invigorating for those seeking such things.
A simple feature that allows individuals to bookmark and create specific clips for later viewings.
Deleted scenes - 1080p - 6:37
A total of half a dozen clips that are very little more than filler material to hold the audience's hand and spell things out. The only omission that struck me as odd was that of another “boo” moment, given that I'd assumed they'd used all those that were filmed.
There was nothing there other than a preview for the film when I looked. This was shown in 480p, was far louder than the film and subsequently shook my windows and left me flailing for the remote - it didn't help that it can't be paused either.
In total a meagre selection of extras to say the least.
VerdictThe Unborn may please some, but I find it hard to imagine who they may be. Perhaps fans of modern B movies may find its predictability has a certain charm to it. For most it will remain a shallow experience that is akin to a patchwork quilt of moments from other more successful and artistically visionary chillers. Acting is hard to gauge as the script is a patently inadequate tool for such professionals to display their talents with. Yustman does what she can, but doleful looks and whimpering only go so far and Oldman could perform his lines in his sleep.
The disc itself is far more impressive. The presentation is fine throughout, with balanced colours, good skin tones, strong contrast and a clean transfer, this is arguably better than the film itself deserves. The audio is tailored for the loud noises and forceful LFE rumblings which leaves the dialogue less than centre stage. How much of a criticism it is that your amp may need to be ramped up a few notches for reasonably succinct dialogue is a judgement for the individual though. Extras are threadbare and show perhaps just how little was left on the cutting room floor that was of the standard for such a disc.
With this Blu-ray containing both the theatrical cut and the “unrated” cut, viewers who saw this at the cinema keen for a more extreme or more complete experience may be a little perturbed to find that the running times differ by exactly 45 seconds, thus this too is hardly a deal breaker. I'm sure if you've already seen this and enjoyed it you'll be only too pleased to hear of its great introduction to the HD home format. For the rest of you, I'd recommend a rental before committing to a purchase.
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