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The Unspoken (2015)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/6/2016
All Ratings out of
Extras: No Extras
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/6/2016
You don't have to be a daily visitor to this website (but it would be great if you were) to know that one of my big soapbox topics is originality. I get tired of seeing the same movie over and over and I long for something new. (Doesn't everyone feel this way?) But, as we've seen in the past, hoping for something different can be a "be careful what you wish for" situation. There's a fine line between "cool" and "huh?", as evidenced by The Unspoken.
The Unspoken opens in 1997, where we see a police officer enter a secluded house, only to find that the family which lived there is missing and a priest is dead. The story then jumps ahead 17 years. (Wait a minute. This is taking place in 2014 and it wasn't released until the end of 2016? That's not a good sign.) Jeanie (Pascale Hutton) and her young son, Adrian (Sunny Suljic), move into the house. As Adrian has special needs, Jeanie requests that local daycare worker, Angela (Jodelle Ferland), help care for the child. Despite the fact that the house has become the stuff of local legend, as her father (Lochlyn Munro) is out of work, Angela accepts the position. She finds that she like Adrian, but she does not like the odd things which happen around the house, such as strange noises and objects moving by themselves. Even after her father forbids her to work in the house, Angela returns, only to find that there are things much worse than strange noises.
You've got to hand it to Writer/Director Sheldon Wilson, he's certainly thrown a lot of things into The Unspoken...perhaps too many things. The story is all over the place, as it wants to be about a local haunted house and what a new family experiences once they move in. There's certainly nothing original about that, as we've seen this many times before. Angela is a young innocent whose brought into a situation which she doesn't understand. Yep, we've seen that before as well. As if the bizarre things happening in the house aren't bad enough, there is also a local gang, led by Luther (Anthony Konechny), who have stashed drugs inside the house and want to get them out. As if plucked directly from a Stephen King novel, this is the kind of hillbilly psycho villain which is meant to add an extra level of menace to the story. Wilson tries his best to balance all of these things, but the movie can't maintain focus on any one of its storylines for long. We think that the movie is going to be about Angela watching over Adrian in the strange house, but we actually get very little of this. The movie is far too infatuated with subplots.
The finale turns into a siege movie, with lots of shouts of "Run!". It seems as if the movie is going to wring out every possible cliche that it can. But, then in the last few minutes, Wilson pulls out his big twist. I'm not going to spoil it for you here, but it does not work. Which is unfortunate, because it's almost an interesting idea, but it's not explained very well. (I can see Wilson pitching the idea and it sounding much better than it actually plays in the movie.) The film's coda should elicit a groan from most viewers. (And it made me wonder why they were using a map in today's world, as opposed to a GPS.)
When I saw the name Sheldon Wilson in the credits, it meant nothing to me. But, then I looked him up and realized that I've seen his work before in movies likeScarecrow, Carny, Screamers: The Hunting and Kaw. He’s been making movies since 2001 and well, most of them are in focus. Having now seen more of his movies than I have of some truly gifted filmmakers, I really need to start scanning the box for his name before I put a movie in. The Unspoken is a weird movie in the sense that it’s 88-minutes of recycle ideas and 2-minutes of “do what now?” The ending offers an idea that screams out to be in a better movie. Until that film appears, The Unspoken will not suffice.
The Unspoken wastes an appearance by the great Lochlyn Munro on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, however I noted what looked like static on the far left and right sides of the screen during the darker shots. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. (Actually, for a horror movie, things don’t get that dark, which I like.) The image gets a bit soft at times, but the depth remains stable. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix does a nice job of delivering the noises coming from the house, as we get some discrete audio coming from the rear channels. The subwoofer gets into the action for the “jump” scares.
The Unspoken DVD contains no extra features.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long