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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Unseen


Starring: Aden Young, Camille Sullivan, Julia Sarah Stone and Ben Cotton
Distributor: Strike Media
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 12 February 2018

Gemma and Will are naturally devastated when their young son is lost. Gemma undergoes a series of panic attacks wherein she almost totally loses her sight, and Will is convinced he can still hear the just discernible voice of their child calling to them. As they inevitably begin to fall out, Gemma takes up an offer from a man called Paul to stay at his Lake District getaway. Paul is amenable to the couple and seemingly allows them their space, while periodically popping-up to enquire if they "need anything". It turns out Paul has his own agenda; his obsession for Gemma moves him to manipulate them and attempt to take control of their lives...

The Unseen is not a horror film in the true sense. It’s barely even a psychological thriller. A crime drama would be closer to the truth. Something we might see in three or four parts on BBC 1 or Channel 5. The media blurb carries quotes which brandish such words as "Unsettling", "Disturbing", "Unnerving", "Engaging" and "Thrilling". Er… no. This film is overly long, dull and aloof. It’s impossible to be taken on a roller coaster ride of thrilling suspense when everything comes across so cold and uncaring. The bad guy has no personality and next to no motive for his actions. The husband, Will, is not much better. Only Jasmine Hyde’s Gemma carries any conviction, but her endeavours fall somewhat flat when she has no personalities to play to. The plot is reasonable enough, but its strands are somewhat contrived, leaving a few plot holes and unanswered questions.

The main protagonist here is an audio book voice artist, who it turns out is spotted and fantasised over after doing a live reading in a bookshop – although he lives miles away in the Lake District! Also, purely by chance Paul has audio equipment, supposedly for detecting the sounds of birds from a distance. Many occurrences are contrived to fit the plot, as opposed to building the characters and exploring how they might react to any given situation. In fact, for the majority of the film I assumed the lost child had been abducted. Gemma and Will frantically search the house for him, culminating in Will splashing through the Pool Room but no body being seen by the viewer. Consequently, when Gemma snatches open the front door and a car accelerates up the road at speed, it’s natural to believe an abduction has just taken place. There is no discussion or scene involving a funeral, so the tacked-on explanation that the boy had been accidentally locked in the Pool Room and drowned seems wedged-in awkwardly at contrast to the natural flow of events.

I love to watch and promote home-grown British horror or suspense material, but this one suffers from the same writer/director factor. It can be a blessing or a curse, and this one for me is closer to the latter. Having said that, it is not a condemnation of Gary Sinyor who I firmly believe will go on to better things.


Ty Power

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