The Unborn (2009) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

The Unborn (2009) Explained poster
They knew what they were doing with this poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 2009’s The Unborn

A woman (Odette Annable) plagued by strange nightmares discovers she’s been targeted by a vengeful supernatural entity tied to her family’s history.

Is The Unborn (2009) Scary?

There are a handful of jumpscares in The Unborn and one that got me really good but the problem the movie has overall when it comes to its scares is that it’s predictable. The Unborn might be scarier to those who haven’t seen a lot of horror movies but if you have, then you won’t be scared at all. Overall you won’t leave The Unborn scared of anything unless you have creepy children as neighbors.

Plot Synopsis:

The film opens with our main character Casey (played by Odette Annable) on a run when she spots a random blue glove in the middle of the street. Instead of leaving it alone because she’s not a detective for the lost glove division she decides to pick it up. Turning around a strange child missing a blue glove appears.

The kid morphs into a dog wearing a mask who heads into the woods. For some reason, Casey decides to follow the clearly haunted dog and finds its mask in the woods. Digging it up she finds a baby in a jar of formaldehyde and is not freaked out in the slightest… until the baby opens its eyes!

Cut to the revelation that this was all a dream and Casey on the phone with her friend Romy (played by Meagan Good) who believes in dream interpretation and is pretty open to supernatural stuff. Casey is in the middle of babysitting a neighbor’s two kids, a young child; Matty; and a baby when she hears one of them upstairs moving around.

Casey heads upstairs and finds Matty (played by Atticus Shaffer) forcing the baby to stare at a small mirror as he whispers “keep looking” and “some people are doorways”, in other words; some weird shit. Casey touches Matty’s shoulder telling him it’s time for bed but Matty isn’t about that rule life and strikes Casey with the mirror.

Atticus Shaffer as Matty and Odette Annable as Casey in 2009's The Unborn
“OH hell no this girl did not just touch me.”

Casey gets a small cut under her eye and Matty says “Jumby wants to be born now”. Although it’s weird the word “jumby” makes it lose all creepiness. Cut to a short time later and Casey is with Matty’s parents’ sayings it’s okay so I assume they gave her a big tip.

As Casey heads home she sees that same glove from her dream in the middle of the street and again, she doesn’t leave it alone. That night after saying goodnight to her dad (played by James Remar) Casey heads to the bathroom in her room and hears knocking coming from the mirror. Seeing nothing behind the mirror she heads to sleep but the camera zooms in on the mirror as we hear more knocking DUN DUN DUNNN.

The next morning Casey prepares some breakfast and cracks an egg revealing a potato bug which freaks her out. She tosses the egg and bug in the sink and spots Matty watching her from the driveway. Cut to Casey at school telling her friends, Romy, her boyfriend; Mark (played by Cam Gigandet); and Lisa (played by Rachel Brosnahan) about what Matty was doing with the mirror.

Cam Gigandet, Odette Anable, Meagan Good, and Rachel Brosnahan in 2009's The Unborn
Does this college not have indoor seating areas?

Later in class, Casey starts having headaches and sees the words on the board have changed to “Jumby wants to be born now”. A potato bug then slips out of her sleeve causing her to freak out and leave the class. After some class that required Casey to shower afterward, Romy notices one of Casey’s brown eyes has started to change to blue, and Casey and Mark then head to an optometrist. 

The doctor tells her about heterochromia which is when one eye is different than the other but takes some pictures of her eye just in case. Afterward, Casey invites Mark to stay over that night since her dad will be gone on a business trip. As they walk, Casey spots the boy from her dream across the street but he disappears.

That night as Casey and Mark lay in bed, Casey tells Mark about her mom. We see a flashback of a younger Casey visiting her mom (played by Carla Gugino) in a hospital. We learn Casey’s mom was adopted and had recently learned who her birth mother was which somehow led her to become sick. After that visit, Casey’s mom hanged herself.

Carla Gugino as Casey's mom in 2009's The Unborn
Are we going to ignore that she has the same eye color as that weird ghost kid?

After telling her story, Casey heads to the bathroom where she checks her eye and we see the blue in her eye is fading. As she leaves she hears knocking coming from the mirror but finds nothing again. She hears more knocking and checks again. This time, in a jump scare, the ghost kid appears behind the mirror and screams.

The dybbuk appears behind the mirror in 2009's The Unborn
FUCKING HELL. Burn the house down.

Casey screams and Mark comes running but of course, the ghost kid is gone. The next day Casey removes the mirror from her bathroom. After another run, Casey walks past her neighbor’s home and finds out that Matty’s younger sibling was found dead.

Later at the optometrist, the doctor suggests that Casey might be a twin as her different eye color might be a result of genetic mosaicism. Casey visits her father at work and confirms she had a twin in the womb. Her dad tells her that her umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and killed him. He then reveals they had given him a nickname… jumby. DUN DUN DU– Still not scary.

At home, Casey looks through some of her mother’s things finding old film reels and a newspaper article regarding a survivor of the holocaust, Sofia Kozma. She also finds a picture of her pregnant mom and in the mirror sees another strange ghost boy.

Casey and Romy head to a nursing home where Sofia Kozma is living and surprisingly easily are able to speak with her. Sofia (played by Jane Alexander) immediately knows that Casey had a twin but says she doesn’t know her mother or why she had an article referencing her. Casey shows her the picture and Sofia flips out demanding they leave her alone.

Jane Alexander as Sofia in 2009's The Unborn
“Hmm, unfortunately, it’s too early in the movie for me to reveal plot details so get out.”

Later Mark brings over a film projector and Casey plays the film reel she found in her mother’s belongings. The film is of the hospital where her mother died which ends abruptly so that was informative. Mark, Casey, Romy, and Lisa then head to a club to partayyyy but at the club, Casey starts to get a headache and sees the ghost kid.

In the bathroom, Casey throws up after barely drinking which in a movie means she’s pregnant. After throwing up Casey starts to hear whispering and the stall next to her starts leaking out hundreds of potato bugs. The walls then break revealing more bugs and one of the stalls opens revealing Casey’s mom.

Casey’s mom calls out to her and this entire scene feels like forced horror which makes it not scary at all. There’s no point to any of this.

Casey's mom shows up in the bathroom in 2009's The Unborn
This won’t ever be explained OoOoOo

Casey’s screams alert Romy and Mark who somehow hear her over the loud club music. Rushing into the bathroom, it’s revealed that it was just a hallucination Casey was having. That night Casey goes to sleep and has a dream where she watches the creepy ghost boy rip her stomach open and reach inside. So she’s totally pregnant.

Casey wakes up from the nightmare but also conveniently just as she gets a phone call from Sofia. Sofia tells her that we’re now about halfway through the movie so it’s time for plot revelations she is actually Casey’s mom’s mom making her Casey’s grandmother and that she lied before about what she knew.

Sofia requests to see her immediately and despite it being past midnight, Casey drives over so I guess this nursing home doesn’t have security or strict visiting hours. Sofia tells Casey that as a child, she and her twin brother were in Auschwitz where they were experimented on by the Nazis who took a peculiar interest in twins.

The Nazi experiments involved attempts to change eye color among other things that usually led to death but some of their experiments were more occult-like. After attempting to change Sofia’s twin brother, Barto’s eye color, Barto died but the experiments had opened a doorway to the other side. This allowed a dybbuk, the soul of a dead person who has been barred from entering heaven, to take over Barto’s body and pretend it was Barto. 

Realizing it wasn’t actually her brother, Sofia killed him which sent the dybbuk back to the other side but since then, it has been trying to reenter our world. Since mirrors are like gateways to the other side and twins are like mirrors (that’s Sofia’s ridiculous statement, not mine) the dybbuk has been trying to enter the world through them.

It attempted to enter through Jumby but after Jumby was killed in the womb, it targeted Casey though it needed time to get stronger. Sofia then tells Casey that its blood is on their hands and they must find a way to stop it.

Sofia tells Casey the truth about the dybbuk in 2009's The Unborn
“Our hands? Sounds like you did all the murdering.”

Sofia sends Casey to find a “Book of Mirrors” that should contain instructions for an exorcism and recommends a rabbi that might be able to help. At a library, Casey finds the book and then steals it cuz fuck them “borrowing” rules. 

The next day she finds Rabbi Sendak (played by freaking Gary Oldman) and asks him to translate the book in order to find an exorcism to help her. Though he is reluctant and doesn’t believe the dybbuk is real, he agrees to help. As Casey heads home we see that Sofia gave her instructions to destroy all her mirrors, place windchimes around the house, and gave her a Hamsa Hand amulet for protection.

After Casey destroys all her mirrors she randomly rewatches the film reel of the abandoned hospital again, why? Because no creepy stuff has happened in like 10 minutes. This time the film shows the hospital but it’s accompanied by sounds of growling and screams. A hand then reaches out from a door and it shuts off.

Cut to Romy driving on her way to see Casey but accidentally hits Matty on his bike in a frankly pretty hilarious WTF moment. Romy runs out of her car and finds Matty perfectly find who tells her “he doesn’t want you to help her.” Shouldn’t this kid be getting an exorcism instead of Casey? He’s the one who seems possessed

That night Casey has a dream of herself wandering the abandoned hospital and finds her mom who turns into some kind of monster.

The dybbuk appears as a monster in 2009's The Unborn
Why isn’t this the main villain instead of a ghost child in 1940s apparel?

Casey wakes up and sees the ghost child outside her window staring at her. Meanwhile, at the nursing home, Sofia’s windchimes… chime (?) which alerts her the dybbuk is nearby. After praying she realizes the power is out and wanders around the building like she’s the electrician or something. 

On the second-floor landing, Sofia spots another patient, Eli, wandering around in his wheelchair but ignores him because dammit she’s an electrician, not a doctor! Sofia heads downstairs but halfway down spots Eli, out of his wheelchair, crawling on the first floor. He then crawls onto the stairs and his head rotates 180 degrees as he starts chasing her.

Sofia runs to another staircase and falls but she’s fine. Hearing Eli coming, she hides in a closet but is attacked by the dybbuk in Barto form. As we cut away we only hear Sofia’s screams. The following day Casey and Romy arrive at the nursing home and discover Sofia is dead.

As they leave the nursing home, another patient runs up to Casey and gives her a letter from Sofia. Apparently, Sofia wrote the letter “in case anything happens” and I feel like if there is a supernatural ghost entity chasing your grandchild, you should probably not withhold information for an “in case anything happens” situation.

Sofia is killed in 2009's The Unborn
“Dear Slim, I wrote you but you still ain’t callin’”

The letter tells Casey that the dybbuk feeds on fear and that it will attempt to isolate her by attacking her friends and loved ones. All information that should have been shared earlier. That night Rabbi Sendak is translating the book at the synagogue when the power goes out. Seeing as everyone is apparently an electrician, he goes to check but instead finds a demon dog hanging out.

Sendak demands it leaves and so it does. I bet Sofia wishes she knew she could just do that. Back with Casey, she’s at home video chatting with Romy when someone rings Romy’s doorbell. Casey tells her not to answer it but Romy leaves to answer it. As she leaves Casey spots the dybbuk in Romy’s mirror.

Casey immediately calls Mark and tells him to meet her at Romy’s house now. Meanwhile, Romy answers her door and finds Matty there who says “the doorway is open” and then stabs her in the stomach. At this point, he’s either possessed or he’s getting revenge for her running him over.

Casey and Mark get to the house but finding the front door locked, they break in through the back door. They run upstairs and find a monstrous-looking Matty stabbing a very dead Romy. Mark throws Matty off her and before he attacks him, Casey stops him and says he’s no longer possessed. We see a normal and scared-looking Matty as Romy becomes possessed.

Cut to a short time later with paramedics at the house and police questioning Casey and Mark. So nothing came of Romy getting possessed? We saw her get possessed, start shaking on the floor, and then… we cut to this scene… okay. We next see Casey telling Mark about the dybbuk at a diner and they realize that the dybbuk is now strong enough to possess anyone… so why does it need Casey?

The next day Casey and Mark meet with Rabbi Sendak who agrees to perform an exorcism and has brought them to meet with a Priest Wyndham (played by freaking Idris Elba) who will assist. Casey is confused as to how a Christian priest can help with a Jewish exorcism but Wyndham explains that the dybbuk predates religion so it doesn’t matter what it’s called or what predates it, evil is evil.

Idris Elba in 2009's The Unborn
Does anyone really need a reason to justify Idris Elba in any movie?

The following night Casey, Mark, Sendak, Wyndham, and multiple volunteers from Sendak’s synagogue meet at the abandoned hospital to perform the exorcism. Apparently, the exorcism has to happen at a place that caused a lot of pain to Casey; I think they built the set for the film reel tapes and they wanted another reason to have built it.

Casey is strapped down to a gurney and the exorcism starts. Immediately it goes off the rails when the dybbuk, appearing as Barto, shows up. Using telepathy, the dybbuk throws several volunteers violently against the wall, knocks out Sendak with a lamp, and kills one of the volunteers by bending her backward.

Mark rushes to the gurney, unstraps Casey, and the two run but not before Casey grabs the exorcism prayers that Sendak dropped. The dybbuk then approaches the Wyndham, who is praying, and possesses him.  

Mark and Casey run to the second floor of the hospital and hide but are attacked by a possessed Wyndham. They’re eventually able to get the upper hand and Mark kills him by striking him in the head with a pipe. Mark then reveals himself to be possessed and chokes Casey, but she uses the Hamsa Hand amulet that Sofia gave her to stab him in the neck.

Mark lets Casey go and is about to attack again but Sendak shows up and starts to recite the exorcism. Casey joins in and together they successfully exorcise the dybbuk. The force of banishing the dybbuk sends Mark over a railing and onto the floor below. Casey rushes to Mark’s side just as he dies.

Sometime later, as we see flashbacks of Casey questioning why this is happening now, we see Casey not only discover she’s pregnant but also having twins. This implies the dybbuk targeted her because she became pregnant. 

I guess it makes sense although the flashback implies that Casey got pregnant when we saw Mark staying over but she was already being haunted by the dybbuk at that point. But then again that scene of him staying over could just be implying that they were already sexually active and she got pregnant before the start of the movie.


The Unborn is okay. The acting and dialogue are a bit rough in the first half of the film but get better as we get deeper into the story. On a positive note, I liked that it relied on a type of supernatural entity that isn’t commonly portrayed in film.

Even better, some of the ideas it presented such as evil predating religion so it didn’t matter who was performing the exorcism was refreshing. Tying the evil to family history and history and not something happening to random people was also a plus. Essentially the movie is way better in the second half than in the first half.

On several negative notes, the supporting characters in the first half all feel unnecessary and only show up when the story needs someone around. They don’t feel like real people, for example, Casey’s dad shows up for two scenes then never again. Despite all this stuff happening to his daughter, it being tied to their family, and the dybbuk targeting the people Casey loves he’s nowhere to be found.

Casey’s boyfriend Mark disappears for the entire middle of the movie despite Romy saying that Casey has been missing school and not answering calls. Why wasn’t Mark worried or checking up on her? Also, Sofia conveniently giving answers/information to progress the story was annoying. She realized that Casey was her granddaughter and that she had a twin but decides to lie despite knowing she’s in danger.

The biggest negative The Unborn has is that it breaks its own logic. The dybbuk is trying to enter the world through a twin because twins are mirrors and gateways to the other side but the dybbuk possesses so many people throughout the movie. It clearly possesses Matty from the very start so what’s the point and the reason it wants Casey?

The movie also relies on a lot of horror tropes to the point that it feels like the writer just wanted to check off a list of tropes. This isn’t entirely a negative or a positive because it would really depends on how many horror movies you’ve watched. Here are the ones I found:

  • Creepy children
  • Creepy vintage children
  • Ghosts in mirrors
  • Old film reels that change when played a second time
  • Old pictures of ghosts or dead people
  • Abandoned hospital
  • Visiting someone at a nursing home who has information
  • An exorcism
  • A reluctant priest/rabbi
  • An old book 
  • Seeing ghosts in random places
  • Unexplained parent death
  • Parents who kept secrets
  • Ghost parents
  • Bugs in food that no one else sees
  • Character hiding in a closet only for ghosts to appear behind them
  • Ghost/demon/possessed individual crawling on all fours

Overall I can only recommend The Unborn if you have nothing else to watch and you want to watch something with an interesting story or if you haven’t seen a lot of horror movies. It is a bit predictable and contains a lot of tropes so if you’ve seen a lot of horror movies you might get bored. If you haven’t seen a lot of horror movies you appreciate this movie… if you don’t overthink its logic.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 9%

Metacritic – 30

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