Screamfest Review: The Unseen – Taken As A Horror Movie

I have seen The Unseen so that makes it Seen. It’s still unseen until you see it so I highly recommend you see The Unseen. It takes body horror to the next level, and it’s Taken as a horror movie.

Bob Langmore (Aden Young) leaves his remote mill job to help find his estranged daughter Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). We see glimpses of a graphic medical condition Bob has and when it appears Eva has it too, It puts a ticking clock on finding her. The synopsis to the film says what the condition is but since I didn’t know, and it seems the film keeps it mysterious, I will leave it vague.

The condition is such that no one could really function with it, but if the premise is that Bob can get by covering up this condition, imagine living like that. He avoids hospitals to keep a low profile, and really there’s no medical precedent for him, so he’s just doing homemade patch-ups and making excuses to avoid activities that would put pressure on his wounds.

Amazingly it does not look like visual effects. It looks tactile. We only glimpse Bob’s injury twice and it’s enough to understand what he’s covering up the rest of the movie. It’s just there, until the graphic finale reveals the full extent of it. Still, The Unseen treats the horrifying as if it were medical, and that makes it more disturbing. It makes sense that writer/director Geoff Redknap is a makeup effects artist. Only one shot at the end stands out as visual effects because it has to be.

I was into the drama of an injured mill worker coming for his daughter. These are grownups dealing with grownup problems, the least of which is Bob’s horrifying condition. They’ve got responsibilities they have to put on hold when a crisis comes up. The injury hobbles Bob a few times but it’s even harder to deal with his ex-wife Darlene (Camille Sullivan)’s new partner (Alison Araya) or the abandonment issues he caused by leaving. They’re not playing it up. These are basic relationship conflicts but they’re believable. One unexplained decision can ruin your loved ones’ lives so it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

The dialogue is minimal but Bob’s brief responses are the perfect tough guy talk. His somber voice gives gravity to the outrageous situations the film is playing as real. The script doesn’t need to explain too much about the relationships. Having two moms is normal now so it makes sense as how Darlene continued her life without Bob. A few minor characters make unenlightened comments but the film is ahead of those characters catching up to the modern world. It doles out backstory about Bob’s father and what really happened, but only in the context of regret so it’s not trying to be an explanation.

Redknap’s feature film directorial debut shows a finely attuned sense of storytelling. Young is performing at the same level as Rectify with different demons haunting his character. Stone and the cast playing Eva’s friends are believable teenagers dealing with things they don’t understand. Sullivan conveys compassion even when Darlene is hurting too. Then there’s a cast of reliable character actors playing the tough thugs Ben goes through along the way.

I hope The Unseen gets a good distribution deal and generates more interest in future Rednkap movies.

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