Review by Camden Ferrell
The circumstances surrounding a thriller movie are already frightening enough, but this intensifies when our protagonist finds themselves without one of their senses. This has been explored in movies like Hush and Bird Box, and Unseen is aiming to be another entry into this subcategory of film. In their feature directorial debut, Yoko Okumura delivers some exciting and brief thrills even if it is content to never test the limits of the genre.
Sam is a jaded gas station clerk, dealing with rude customers and a faulty drink machine. One day, she receives a call from Emily, a nearly blind woman who is trying to run from her abusive and murderous ex-boyfriend. Left without her glasses, Emily must rely on Sam via video call to help her escape the forest before her ex can find her. This is a simple premise that isn’t complex but has an interesting angle to make for some creative conflicts and storytelling.
Written by the relatively inexperienced duo of Salvatore Cardoni and Brian Rawlins, this movie has all the elements needed for an entertaining and somewhat mindless thriller. The dialogue is adequate and does the bare minimum in terms of exposition and character development. It may not be subversive with its plot, but it does have passion and genuine excitement for the premise, which is very interesting to see. It’s far from great, but this duo has a lot of potential, especially in this genre.
The cast is quite enjoyable too and does a lot of heavy lifting throughout the movie. The movie is co-led by Jolene Purdy and Midori Francis who play Sam and Emily, respectively. They have solid chemistry and are able to fit nicely within this genre. They’re able to convey strong panic, terror, and anxiety in an entertaining way, and they are usually fun to watch even when the movie might be lacking otherwise.
One of the highlights of this movie is Okumura’s execution of specific scenes throughout. They try and emphasize the interconnectedness of the two leads, and this is achieved through some really interesting editing. Clever split screens and great execution and timing create some cool moments that work on an aesthetic and more deep thematic level. More than anything, it looks great from a visual standpoint which helps amplify the quality of certain scenes in this movie.
Unseen is very short and knows exactly when to leave before overstaying its welcome. A tad too predictable, playing safely within the confines of the genre, this is still an enjoyable thriller if you ever get a chance to watch it. Maybe not a cinematic priority, this is still a movie most general audiences can enjoy just for the thrills and narrative restrictions placed on its characters.
Unseen is available on VOD March 7.