Home > Reviews > THE UNBORN – Ramin Djawadi

THE UNBORN – Ramin Djawadi

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Anytime a film has a January release date, odds are pretty strong that it’s going to be a waste of time. When it’s a horror film directed by David S. Goyer, such odds are even stronger. Such was the case with “The Unborn”, a critically-reviled supernatural horror flick featuring such overqualified actors as Gary Oldman and Jane Alexander. The film tells the unusual story of a girl who is haunted by her dead twin brother. Apparently, the brother was killed as a baby during horrific Nazi experiments, and now the girl must find a way to get rid of her evil ghost twin before it does something nasty to her. The film was scored by Ramin Djawadi, another student of Hans Zimmer who continues to get plum assignments despite the lack of any discernible talent. So, has he shown any signs of improvement in his latest outing?

Things kick off on a surprisingly interesting note with the title track, which offers a rather engaging series of ideas that hearken back to Hans Zimmer’s thriller scores of the early 1990s. An electronic rhythm and some female vocals create a genuinely sinister atmosphere reminiscent of scores like “Pacific Heights” and “Point of No Return”. The basic thematic material in the piece isn’t particularly strong, but the unusual arrangement makes the piece stand out. The minor-key idea is turned into a prancing march of sorts by the end of the piece which is not entirely dissimilar to Jerry Goldsmith’s music for “Gremlins”. It’s a solid start to an album of horror music. Sadly, the music doesn’t become quite that interesting again very often.

“The Glove” offers a very, very low key version of the main theme that’s barely audible for much of it’s running time. Even less noticeable is “Jumby Wants to Be Born Now”, a piece so quiet that it’s very existence is questionable. Ominous electronic rhythms softly slither through the fairly typical “Twins”, which threatens to go somewhere interesting but never really does. “Mom’s Room” does it’s best to conjure a gentle yet reasonably unfriendly atmosphere. The main theme makes a return in “Barto”, which reminded me a great deal of some of Mark Isham’s ambient work on “Running Scared”. Like that score, this one has a few intriguing moments surrounded by loads of very dull electronic writing. If I’m not mistaken, pretty much the entire score is performed with samples and electronics. It should be noted that these are reasonably impressive, but still a very poor substitute for real instruments. At least Djawadi seems to be making an attempt to use the electronics in a unique way rather then having them attempt to do the work of an orchestra.

“Possessed” attempts to put the viewer to sleep before unleashing a rather brutal montage of electronic percussion and general chaos. This is followed by the dull “Experiments”, which softly informs us that we are listening to a suspense score without ever giving us a reason to care. More ominous percussion turns up in “Breakin Mirrors” (is that an in-joke or just bad spelling?), only to lead into aimless swooshing throughout “Dybuk” and some chaotic banging in “The Doorway’s Open”. A couple more cues in which nothing of interest happens lead into the jittery “Bugs”, which is one of the least listenable cues on the album. There’s a small measure of intrigue to be found in “Book of Mirrors” and “Circle of Trust” before the score’s big climax arrives in “Hex or Schism”. The demonic whispering used in Jerry Goldsmith’s “Omen” scores is employed here, but in a far less interesting manner. “Sefer Ha-Marot” offers an all-too-brief but somewhat lovely statement of thematic grandeur before the score piddles out with another barely-audible version of the main theme in “Casey”.

Ramin Djawadi remains one of Hollywood’s more frustrating composers. He’s wasted great scoring opportunities like “Iron Man” and “Blade: Trinity”, and failed to make much of an impression in any of his less widely-known efforts. Sadly, “The Unborn” deserves to be placed on an ever-increasing pile of disappointments from the composer. Fans of Hans Zimmer’s early work may want to download the opening cue from iTunes, but the album as a whole turns into the same sort of dull ambiance that defines the vast majority of modern horror music. It might work perfectly well within the film, but it’s a very weak score album.

Rating: *½

Buy the Unborn soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • The Unborn (4:17)
  • The Glove (2:07)
  • Jumby Wants To Be Born Now (1:24)
  • Twins (1:55)
  • Mom’s Room (2:22)
  • Barto (2:12)
  • Possessed (3:15)
  • Experiments (3:34)
  • Breakin Mirrors (2:12)
  • Dybuk (1:12)
  • The Doorway’s Open (2:38)
  • Sofie’s Letter (2:18)
  • Medicine Cabinet (1:59)
  • Bugs (2:01)
  • Book Of Mirrors (2:27)
  • Circle Of Trust (2:47)
  • Hex Or Schism (4:43)
  • Inhabit The Helpless (1:13)
  • Sefer Ha-Marot (2:49)
  • Casey (1:22)

Running Time: 48 minutes 47 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34065 (2009)

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