Unborn But Forgotten (UK - DVD R2)
Scott McKenzie takes a look at another in the long line of recent Tartan releases
Han is a young documentary filmmaker, who is tagging along with her friend Lee, a cyber crime investigator. Lee is looking into the deaths of pregnant women and discovers that they all visited the same website fifteen days before their demise. Friends of the victims say that they saw a vision of themselves dying on the website. During the course of the investigation, Han visits the website and the countdown begins…
Forgive me for starting with an aggressive tone, but enough with the Ringu clones already! Anyone familiar with Hideo Nakata’s groundbreaking horror will no doubt recognise the structure of the story. A young woman stumbles on a spooky item that will cause her death within a finite amount of time, which gives her just long enough to find out what’s going on. Oh, and there’s some scary kids in there somewhere as well. That template has been reworked ad nauseum over recent years and unfortunately Unborn But Forgotten is no exception.
It’s not just the plot that makes the movie over-familiar. Everything about Unborn But Forgotten feels like many other better movies done badly. The opening titles have Seven written all over them and the style is a complete mis-match with the rest of the movie. There’s nothing here are you can’t find in many other generic horror movies currently available on the Tartan Asia Extreme label and you could be forgiven for mistaking this movie for any number of them if you’ve been unfortunate enough to sit through them all.
The success of horror movies depends on the filmmakers’ ability to draw the audience in with convincing characters and scary but believable situations. The problem I have with Unborn But Forgotten and others like it is the use of modern technology as a horror device. My problem here is that I just don’t find websites scary at all. Maybe it’s because I write for one, run one myself and know that any evil spirit who wants to haunt a website will need to be pretty good with Flash and HTML. Or maybe it’s just because the internet is too new. For me, books and paintings are scary because they’ve been around for thousands of years and you can believe that someone could have put a curse on them many centuries ago. Either way, I find it difficult to be frightened by a ghost that is essentially a geek (no offence intended to our webmaster!).
In order to move the story forward or maintain a sense of mystery, certain plot points don’t make a lot of sense. For example, Lee is a supposed cyber crime expert who is trying to find out who runs the spooky website, but any techie worth his salt knows he could at least start with a WHOIS search. A lot of time is spent in close up shots with characters talking to each other but overall, not a lot happens between the credits and the final showdown. The interaction between the protagonists is dull and humourless and everyone involved seems to be taking themselves far too seriously.
The scary moments are few and far between and when they do come along, they’re sprung on us without much build-up, which leads me to suspect Unborn But Forgotten has been edited considerably to a merciful ninety-one minutes. It’s not the worst film in the world but there’s nothing to recommend and if you’re a big fan of Ringu looking for a good scare, you’d be better off watching that film again rather than going anywhere near this.
It’s business as usual for our friends at Tartan, which means the picture has a good selection of the things that stop the disc getting a decent video score. Dirt and scratches are commonplace on a picture that’s fuzzy and lacking in detail, especially in long shots. The grainy black and white opening scene is effective in creating an atmosphere but once the movie starts after the credits have ended, it’s difficult to work out how much of the visual style of the opening is intended and how much just happens to be there because of the shoddy video quality of the master.
Tartan must have recently found a magical box that remasters audio tracks with DTS in the dumpster round the back of their offices. Either that or they’re spending all their money on the soundtracks in spite of the quality of the movies themselves. Whichever scenario is true, it’s an odd business practice and I find it difficult to believe the addition of a DTS badge to the DVD covers results in considerably more sales. That said, the audio quality of Unborn But Forgotten is very good and the soundtrack is full of powerful music and horror effects, no matter how clichéd they may be.
The menu looks quite nice. Oh, you want to know about the extras as well? I wouldn’t bother asking if I were you but if you insist…
The trailer comes without subtitles and the quality is sub-VHS. That brings us to the ‘On the Set’ featurette, which isn’t really a featurette, just fifty-four minutes of un-edited, un-subtitled clips of the cast and crew on set. And that’s it. There’s no voiceover to tell you who these people are, what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. Just nearly an hour of pointless footage that’s as entertaining as watching the grass grow.
I get the feeling Tartan are running out of barrels to scrape and the Asian horror industry is in dire need of a kick up the backside if Unborn But Forgotten is anything to go by. I’m struggling to work out which movies are the most unoriginal: the ‘scary girl’ horror movies being churned out in Korea and Japan or their Hollywood remakes. Needless to say, this DVD is not worth picking up for either the film itself or the filler that is thinly disguised as special features.
Review by Scott McKenzie
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 4th December 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Korean, Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean, DTS 5.1 Korean
Extras: On the Set, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Chang-Jae Lim
Cast: Jun-Ho Jeong, Eun-Ju Lee, Ji-Yu Kim, Seong-Yong Kye
Length: 91 minutes
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