The Unseen is a necessary summer watch that demands almost nothing from its viewer except patience which is rewarded by its slow descent into a sci-fi heavy narrative that becomes more and more fascinating with each passing scene. While not perfect, it still manages to provide the right amount of entertainment for an easy viewing in between major box office competitors.
Synopsis: In a modern retelling of the classic The Invisible Man, The Unseen is about Bob Langmore a former hockey player, now a struggling mill worker who years earlier mysteriously abandoned his family and isolated himself in a small northern town. He returns for one last chance to reconnect with his troubled daughter Eva but must partner with Crisby a strung-out animal trafficker, to finance the trip. When he discovers Eva is missing, Bob will risk everything to find her including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible. (Raven Banner Entertainment)
Starring: Aden Young, Julia Sarah Stone, and Ben Cotton
Writer: Geoff Redknap
Director: Geoff Redknap
Rating: 18A (Canada)
Running Time: 108mins
The Unseen is a film whose strength lies in a minimalist approach to revealing its answers to preserve as much suspense. It continually makes the viewer guess and when you are able to begin understanding the protagonist’s dark secret you still find yourself questioning the legitimacy of what is happening against what you think is happening. This indecisiveness is what makes the story special even when some of the characters, outside of the secret they are carrying, are unable to truly stand out in the movie they occupy.
Admittedly, before writing this review the decision of whether or not to reveal the true nature of the film was a difficult one. Sure, you can find it through Google or IMDB and it has been on the festival scene for a few years now, but a word of caution before you seek answers. Watching the film without any prior knowledge of the plot made it an entirely unique viewing experience. And for that reason, this review will try to abstain from anything that might reveal the plot of the film.
The Unseen focuses on a former NHL star-turned-recluse, Bob Langmore (Young), who abandoned his wife and daughter 8 years ago and is trying his best to live out what remains of his life working at a mill and keeping to himself. For the most part, he is content with his decision to live alone thinking that if he were to do so his affliction would remain with him and not affect his family. However, when a call from his ex-wife brings him back into his former family’s life, it leads him on a very different path than intended.
While The Unseen focuses on Bob and his family once they are reunited, the true narrative begins when both he and his daughter, Eva (Stone), journey together in search of answers for an affliction that has plagued Bob’s family for generations. Through their discovery, they manage to grow closer together while also venturing into a feeling of shock and disbelief as the story begins to greatly shift towards the unexpected in the final third of the film.
The central characters aren’t given much to stand out with in terms of dialogue or a robust screenplay but that is partly the trick that works for this film as it slowly lulls you into a false sense of confidence before changing pace into a realm of science fiction that you don’t expect. And while the script is not its strongest part, The Unseen’s intriguing plot manages to keep you plugged into the narrative of Bob’s journey and poor decision-making and offers a very fun payoff at the end that is worth the wait.
However, the downside that can be derived from this film is that its pacing can sometimes feel uneven often having scenes where nothing is really occurring or moving forward. As mentioned earlier, this changes towards the end of the film but in its first two acts, it takes its time unfolding Bob’s plight that could’ve been shortened in some places.
The Unseen wasn’t a perfect movie, however, the film told an incredibly interesting story that provided intrigue judiciously throughout the film until the end by which it became completely unrecognizable from its beginning. This surprising narrative backed by characters that were bland on purpose in order to heighten the film’s ending helped create a world that remained engaging to watch right up until the very end. This was a thoroughly enjoyable film that is worth a recommendation as a light summer viewing that will simply entertain and nothing more.