Written and Directed by Geoff Redknap
2016, 110 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered at Fantasia 2016 on July 17, 2016
Aden Young as Bob Langmore
Camille Sullivan as Darlene
Julia Sarah Stone as Eva
Ben Cotton as Crisby
Alison Araya as Moll
Bob Langmore (Aden Young, whom triumphantly nails this role) is a Canadian sawmill worker who is asked by his ex-wife, Darlene (Camille Sullivan), to reconnect with his daughter, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). Eva is full of teenage angst and resentful toward her mother and new wife, Moll (Alison Araya). When Bob returns from the North to the home he once shared with Darlene, Eva is missing and Bob is on a mission to find her; all while on a desperate undertaking for a local coke-head drug dealer, Crisby (Ben Cotton). While all this madness and tension is ensuing, Bob has a secret of his own— he is slowly becoming invisible.
To say The Unseen is influenced by the classic tale “The Invisible Man” by H. G. Wells is an extreme long shot. Invincibility is a shared theme, yes, but this is not an adaption of the novella by any means. For starters, racism isn’t the subject matter and the main character is not a scientist, but rather a man who left his family and the NHL eight years prior. Also, rather than being straight-up invisible like in the text, writer/director Geoff Redknap’s “invisible man” is slowly disintegrating. What the two do share in common is a damn good story. And with Redknap’s, comes a damn well-made film.
The interesting aspect of a slow fade adds more to the pain and strife the characters undergo by prolonging Bob’s disappearance. The use of practical and CGI effects on the missing parts of Bob’s body are stellar; and where there is missing parts, there is flesh and bone which could pass for first-rate gore in a zombie flick. Redknap has an extensive resume in the makeup department, working on films such as Deadpool, Watchmen, Cabin in the Woods, and television’s The X-Files, among many other credits— this explains the gorgeous putrefaction. As the movie progresses, Bob becomes less and less visible; thus the effects become more and more positively dominating.
Another positive facet of The Unseen is the charismatic acting from the cast, specifically Aden Young and Julia Sarah Stone. Aden Young encompasses true grit as Bob Langmore. The way Bob tells his boss he is taking off for an indefinite amount of time, even after the boss says he will be fired, is bad-ass to the core; that boss was not firing him. Young’s facial expressions, hand gestures and tone of voice are on a level of “Dirty” Harry Callahan. We learn early on he was thrown out of the NHL for brutalizing another player. Although viewers never see this scene, through the encounter with his boss and other minor characters in the film, one can only imagine what he did to that player during their hockey brawl. In keeping with Bob’s backbone, Julia Sarah Stone portrays his daughter Eva with similar mannerisms her father has, hence her troublesome demeanor. The two work together in tandem, keeping the bar set high for other cast members and producing a realistically messed-up father/daughter relationship.
Although The Unseen is a tension-ridden story with a top-notch cast and production, some viewers may not like the ambiguous nature of the film. There are symbols in this film that may not jump right out to viewers. Obviously the invisibility theme is symbiotic with loneliness, isolation and death, and extends to the issues his family has. But some are a bit more obscure. Bob likes to smoke joints, like many do from time to time as an escape from reality. He hates his boss but works hard, sends child support checks to Darlene and is miserable; it’s the same old cycle. But few tangible aspects of life puts a smile on his face; along with a picture of his daughter he keeps in his truck. Too bad her name wasn’t Mary Jane. But seriously, the pot is symbolic for his escapism, which is something every human encounters (some way more than others) at some point in their life. The human condition is weaved in and out of The Unseen.
Where the film ends, some may not fulfill the closure they seek, as the vague temperament continues. As a fan of slow burn, sub-textual movies, this is recommended and will shine among the horde at Fantasia 2016. It is also one of those films that you can share with a significant one that isn’t so into the horror genre. At its core, this is a tale of a family and the dissension they go through. Just tell your other it’s a family drama.
Ultimately, The Unseen is a true breath of fresh air in the indie scene. Geoff Redknap’s debut feature film is nothing but a success and his name is one to look out for in the future.
4/5 Zombie Heads