Afterbirth: An Exclusive Unborn DVD Interview


David Goyer looks back, flashes forward

Bugs, split walls with writhing tentacles, dogs with upside down heads, Odette Yustman in panties, creepy kids and Gary Oldman with a really big horn. Audiences got a taste of the supernatural David Goyer-style in January when The Unborn kicked off the year in horror. Following a $75 million worldwide box office gross, the exorcism-tinged thriller, which finds Yustman spooked by sinister visions, comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on July 7th. David Goyer gave a ring from his offices at Flash Forward, the new television series he’s directing for ABC, to look back on his fourth feature at the helm. With interviews like this, every director we talk to looks back on their film and says, “Oh, I wish I could’ve tweaked this or that…” Do you feel the same way? Or you satisfied…

David Goyer: I’m extremely happy with the box office results. Thrilled. It made a ton of money. [laughs] I’m happy with that. Looking back on it, I was surprised, critically, that reviewers gave me such flack for the Holocaust aspect, which I thought was relatively small. I thought there was a double standard, because I remember thinking, “How is this any different than what they did at the beginning of X-Men?” And nobody gave them flack for that at all. Maybe because we were a horror film it wasn’t cool, and they were a comic book movie, I don’t really know why that was okay and this wasn’t. But I also never said the Holocaust caused the Dibuk, I said it was a place that it allowed it to enter… Anyway, I thought it was interesting. Obviously, I’m sensitive to the Holocaust, but I was surprised people took issue in it in that way.

Shock: Re-watching the film on DVD, I honed in on the efficient pace with which you make it move. It’s tight. Twenty minutes in, Yustman’s character is right in the mix of the mystery.

Goyer: It definitely moves fast. Ironically, I remember saying I wanted to do something that was a bit more of a classic, slow burn. It’s not like I was being pushed to trim it shorter, I just ultimately decided it needed to burn as slowly as I thought it could.

Shock: I understand it found a lot of success overseas, too. Why do you think that is?

Goyer: Horror has always traveled incredibly well overseas. I think there were aspects of the story that spanned different continents, spanned different cultures, I also think Gary Oldman is a much bigger star overseas than he is here, and that didn’t hurt. It played incredibly well in a lot of countries. It’s funny, prior to it being released internationally I was looking at how similar films had fared overseas. You’d get a film like Friday the 13th, which has a name and will do well overseas, but not all the comparable horror films do well overseas. In this case, an exorcist film is relatively universal.

Shock: This unrated cut has a little bit more thrown in. Do you oversee what’s put back in versus what will be left for the deleted scenes section?

Goyer: It’s funny, they wanted to do an unrated version. I’ll be honest, there wasn’t a ton of footage I was forced to cut out because of the MPAA, there was some. It wasn’t a case of, “Oh my God, there’s 20 minutes of gore,” or whole scenes I wasn’t able to put in. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of my original in intention I was able to put in. I think we were skirting the bleeding edge of PG-13. I think maybe even next year this film would have gotten an R rating.

Shock: Really?

Goyer: I think the tastes are changing, but I felt this wasn’t quite graphic enough to be an R-rated film. It’s not super graphic but I do think it’s disturbing.

Shock: Right, the MPAA takes issue with “tone,” too.

Goyer: We had the tonal thing as well. Again, when you get into that situation, you get into these sort of Brazil-like arguments about things that had passed through. It’s always a hard call when you’re making a horror film whether or not to make a PG-13 or R-rated film. At the end of the day, I just decided to shoot what I think was appropriate and we’d decide later whether it’s PG-13 or R. When I finished it, I felt like I thought I could get it down to PG-13 and, economically, it actually works out better. But we didn’t go for it from the start.

Shock: Sam Raimi approached Drag Me to Hell in a similar fashion and they had two cuts, but ultimately they went for PG-13, yet it still didn’t catch on. What’s your stance – does rating matter?

Goyer: On one hand, you’re going to have the people who want a more hardcore, graphic film. I read the Internet chatter, and when they released the rating of The Unborn they were disappointed it wasn’t R. So I guess their reasoning is that it can’t be scary if it’s not R. On the other hand, you have the whole group of people who can’t legally see it if it’s R. So, there’s no question that PG-13 horror films historically do bigger than R rated films at the box office. If I had felt we had to hack out fifteen minutes or whole sequences then I would have said, “It’s R and so be it.” But I felt in this case, we were pretty close to PG-13 so let’s go for it.

Shock: Why didn’t you contribute a commentary?

Goyer: I go back and forth on commentaries. I’ve done a lot before. But this time there was a time decision because the period they wanted me to do it, I was in the middle of directing my pilot for NBC and it actually became physically impossible. I was shooting for a month and there was a period they had to lock it up or not. We had that discussion and there was just no way to do it. Which is not to say that we can’t do a commentary at a later date and release another version of it.

Shock: True. Well, I missed the Goyer on Goyer conversation that you had done for Blade: Trinity.

Goyer: I know, I know. It all just became impossible to schedule.

Shock: How are things on Flash Forward?

Goyer: So far so good. We’ve written the next six or seven episodes and we’re getting ready to shoot the rest of the series in a couple of weeks. It’s mayhem right now.

To revisit our initial interview with Goyer, and star Yustman, when the film was released click here!

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor

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Weekend: Nov. 14, 2019, Nov. 17, 2019

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