The premise of the latest South Korean feature is likely to elicit an across the board groan from virtually everyone who hears it. The story follows a television producer (Eun-ju Lee) who, while shooting a documentary on police officer Jun-ho Jeong, uncovers a sinister website known only as The White Room, that outwardly appears to cause the unexplained deaths of its viewers. The central twist lies in the fact that all of the victims are women and all appear to have been pregnant at the time of their deaths. Now, with time rapidly running out, Lee has only 15 days to uncover the mystery before she too becomes a casualty of The White Room.
The bastard son of ‘Ringu’ and ‘FearDotCom,’ ‘Unborn But Forgotten’ is just another dull entry into the techno-shocker genre. A genre, I might add that has produced such utterly forgettable garbage as Ghost in the Machine, Brainscan, White Noise, The Ring Two, and the tragically horrific FreakyLinks series. Each of those titles is born of the same motivation. That motivation is to show you that technology cannot be trusted, that as we move into the global landscape and place more of our trust in machinery, the machinery may abuse that trust.
While the philosophy of man vs. machine is certainly not new, and owes its inception as much to the birth of the industrial revolution as the advent of the assembly line, the “no fate, but what we make” future of James Cameron seems to be the modern catalyst for the continued mistrust of computer technology. Still, it stands to reason that precious few filmgoers in 2005 find their Television, Microwave or Laptop to be an object of terror, although there may be some valid arguments that television programming is pretty horrifying, no studies have conclusively shown that Everybody Loves Raymond will actually kill you.
Like virtually all South Korean imports, Unborn But Forgotten is of the highest production quality, featuring gorgeous cinematography, slick direction, and solid overall performances from the cast. It would then seem difficult to make any concrete arguments for why the film disappoints. The plot is fairly linear, which frequently fails to be the case in Asian cinema. The actions of the lead characters are all arguably reasonable. So, much like in Western cinema, it seems that this is simply a case where the whole fails to be greater than the sum of its parts.
Too often than not, in foreign films, mediocrity is misinterpreted as master filmmaking. Many critics and audiences appear to forgive base problems in the storytelling by chalking it up to a loss in translation. But the fact remains that Unborn But Forgotten is a weak film and one, which, while looking great, contains no more soul than the screen you’re reading at this very second.