Sponsor

New Release Review (DVD) - UNSPOKEN

A young woman takes a child-minding job in a house with a cursed reputation.






Review by Ren Zelen (@renzelen)

Directed by: Sheldon Wilson

Starring: Jodelle Ferland, Sunny Suljc, Neal McDonough, Jessie Fraser, Jonathan Whitesell, Rukiya Bernard



Some horror movies try to grab you by the throat and drag you along on a frightening ghost ride. Unspoken is not quite one of these movies. It has some gory shock moments, but otherwise follows a storyline that initially goes pretty much by the numbers and flits between a gore-fest and a fairly conventional ghost story.


Director Sheldon Wilson’s 2004 debut film, Shallow Ground, was a cult hit and won the Best Feature at Edinburgh’s Dead by Dawn film festival. For his latest offering, Unspoken, he has given us what might be called a form of ‘haunted house’ story.

Unspoken begins with a flashback to 1997 when, in the dead of night, a cop arrives at Briar House, the home of the Anderson family, and finds that some disturbing and savage events have taken place. The Anderson family themselves however, have vanished without a trace. Only their terrified and bloodied babysitter remains. No-one will ever believe her story.


No bodies were ever found, and Briar House gains a reputation as a cursed and haunted house. It remains unoccupied until years later, when single mum Jeanie (Pascale Hutton) and her mute nine year old son Adrian (Sunny Suljic) decide to move in. They appear unaware of its grim history.

As her family is short of money, local girl Angela (Jodelle Ferland) fights her own misgivings and ignores pleas from her worried and superstitious father not to work at the notorious house, after she is offered a job as Adrian’s childminder. Her father has additional reason to be upset, as Angela also happens to be the daughter of the babysitter who was discovered at the scene of the original mystery, and who subsequently committed suicide.

Angela finds she has an affinity with the silent Adrian, and as she begins to build a relationship with the boy she feels she must protect him as events begin to take a sinister turn - plagues of flies swarm into the house, weird noises come from behind the doors of locked closets and dishes stack up in the kitchen all by themselves. When a gang of hoodlum teenagers decide to invade the house to track down a stash of drugs they have hidden down in the creepy basement, they trigger an increasingly violent series of phenomena, leaving Angela in no doubt that an evil that has remained dormant for years has returned.


Some horror movies try to grab you by the throat and drag you along on a frightening ghost ride. Unspoken is not quite one of these movies. It has some gory shock moments, but otherwise follows a storyline that initially goes pretty much by the numbers and flits between a gore-fest and a fairly conventional ghost story in a Southern- gothic setting, with the additional menace of a home invasion by a vicious, amoral teen gang.

The film has a tendency to often leave questions frustratingly unanswered and apart from the fairly sympathetic Angela, offers us fairly stock characters, only one of which surprises us, and that is the Caribbean housekeeper (Rukiya Bernard), who does something rarely seen in a horror movie – she does the smart thing and gets the hell out of the spooky place pronto, once the weirdness starts, although the twist at the end undermines and puts into question the reason for her even being there in the first place.


There has been a bit of an online buzz about the genre twist at the end - it has a certain originality, even if it does seem to be a sudden and perfunctory elucidation, tacked on and rather a cop out (but for the sake of remaining spoiler free I won’t give it away).

Unspoken recently had its World Premiere at the 2015 Film4 Frightfest Film Festival (Oct. 24th). The movie certainly isn’t going to shake the foundations of the genre; it may only serve as an undemanding diversion if you’ve nothing better to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Unspoken is on DVD now.




discussion by