Judge Joel Pearce has this question for Korean horror director Chang-jae Lim: If Hideo Nakata jumped off a cliff, would you follow? Pretty please...with sugar on top.
So generic it's scary…
Yeah, it's yet another creepy techno-ghost Asian horror film. Yipee. In this case, women are killed by a haunted website. Unborn but Forgotten isn't a horrible film, but anyone who is drawn to it will have seen it all half a dozen times before.
Facts of the Case
Stop me if you've heard this one. A young female reporter named Soo-jin (Eun-ju Lee, Taegukgi) finds out about a web page that women visit, then die fifteen days later. She hooks up with Jin-suk (Jun-ho Jeong, Marrying the Mafia), the cop investigating the case. Of course, she ends up visiting the site herself, and now has only fifteen days left to discover the truth. As the clues unfold, it turns out that the ghost of a woman who lost a child, and now seems to want…well, that's unclear, but she's mighty pissed at any rate.
I will happily admit that I enjoyed Ringu a lot. It was clever, creepy, and had something new to offer the tired horror market at the time. Phone was cut from the same mold, but was suitably scary and had a few surprises towards the end. It's all getting a bit silly now, though, especially considering how close Unborn but Forgotten is to everyone's favorite Japanese horror flick: The young female reporter; the angry ghost; the black-and-white flashback sequences; the strong male helping the investigation along; the convoluted mess of clues leading back to the most obvious conclusion. It's such an elaborate rip-off that I kept waiting for a fetus to crawl through the monitor.
Unfortunately, the makers of Unborn but Forgotten also made the major mistake of revealing the villain a third of the way into the film. It's so painfully obvious who the bad guy is that even stupid audience members will find themselves checking their watches, waiting for the characters to finally uncover the truth.
That's not to say that the film isn't creepy at times. It is attractively shot, with great lighting and some inventive camera angles. The music is freaky, and there are numerous scares. They all lack power, though, for a couple of reasons. First, the plot is so obvious that any attempt at sustained suspense simply doesn't work. Also, each scene has been so blatantly telegraphed that many of the scary sequences don't even stand up on their own. By the end, when the fetus does finally…well, I will leave that as a surprise, though audience members are more likely to groan than scream. Then, it's all topped off by the most ridiculous end-scare of all time. It has nothing to do with the plot, and doesn't make any sense whatsoever. It's almost as though the producers got through the film and realized they forgot to include a final scare scene.
The story of the reporter, which includes her affair with a powerful co-worker and her nearly getting fired for said affair, could have been really interesting. It's disturbing to think that situations like this still exist anywhere for women, and Eun-ju Lee is a good enough actor to handle the drama of the situation. Unfortunately, it only jumps to this story a few times, not enough to draw us in. With a bit more effort on the part of the filmmakers, a strong correlation could have been drawn between this kind of work situation for women and the abortion theme of the film.
This is also a pretty disappointing effort from Tartan Video. The video transfer is decent, but not anamorphically enhanced, as promised on the box. This results in a lack of detail on high quality displays, which lessens the impact of the shadow detail and rich cinematography. There are also occasional compression errors, which I have never seen from this company before. The sound is better, with the usual options of stereo, Dolby 5.1 and DTS, all in Korean. The DTS track is a bit richer sounding, but either 5.1 track contains enough punch to shake the floor during the scary scenes.
The only significant extra is an On the Set featurette, which runs about an hour but lacks any cohesive structure. It shows the filming as well as discussions and work behind the scenes. There are also some brief interviews with the lead performers. Besides a photo gallery, that's about it.
With such a strong visual aesthetic and rich tone, I wish the producers of Unborn but Forgotten had taken more of a chance with the script. I can't really recommend it to anyone, even horror fans that are less familiar with the recent output from Japan and Korea. This is an inferior product in terms of both the film and the DVD presentation. It could have been really good, too, which only serves to make it more disappointing.
Unborn but Forgotten has arrived stillborn. The studio should have seen it coming and aborted the production.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tartan Video
• "On the Set"
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