The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - THE UNWILLING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - THE UNWILLING

the unwilling movie review
Family members gathered for a will reading succumb to a supernatural force.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Jonathan Heap

Starring: Dina Meyer, David Lipper, Austin Highsmith, Lance Henriksen, Levy Tran

the unwilling movie poster

Mr Harris (veteran Lance Henriksen of Aliens etc) lies dying in the bed of his home. A nurse approaches and they have an awkward exchange before a stranger appears cradling a decidedly crafty looking black box, which he claims Mr Harris insisted on having in his room. The nurse accidentally strokes the box with her hand and all of a sudden is thrown about the room like a rag doll before standing in front of a mirror and feeling really, really good. These feelings are momentary however as she soon discovers there is an evil presence in the room. She randomly finds that her hair is falling out and then collapses.

The lovely lush theme music by Stephen Melillo follows, while the opening credits list the large number of producers that collaborated with writer/director Jonathan Heap to bring this film to the screen.

We watch a man clearly suffering from OCD getting ready for bed, counting his hand washes as he goes. There is an effective ‘shadow on the wall’ scene that affords the audience the only real chill in this movie.

A phone call from his sister to David (OCD man played by a winning David Lipper) informs him that his father has passed away and so can't hurt them anymore; clearly there is no love lost here.

As the family gathers from various corners of the state there is an ample amount of easy exposition in the cars on the way to the will reading.

the unwilling movie

There’s cousin Kelly (Austin Highsmith) and her brother (?) Darren (an eye catching turn from Jake Thomas) who’s annoyed his dealer hasn’t kept him in drugs for the upcoming trip; Michelle (Dina Meyer of Starship Troopers), who is seen doing some quick yoga before making her way to the reading; Richard (Robert Rusler - A Nightmare on Elm Street 2), married to Michelle for 8 years and now bringing along his new wife-to-be Cheryl (an always believable Bree Williamson).

They meet up at David’s home in the hills, as not only does he have OCD but he is also suffering from agoraphobia and hasn’t left the house in years.

Immediately upon meeting Cheryl, sparks fly with David and it seems her ‘fiancée of Richard’ status will likely soon be off the cards.

Shortly after they convene, the mysterious box appears on David’s doorstep; they bring it inside and puzzle over its odd appearance and offensive smell. It seems there is no way to open it.

When spikes poke up out of the box and a text message from the lawyer says ‘blood of the six’ in Latin, they decide the box must be rigged with some sort of DNA test and they all prick their fingers on the six spikes; the fact that Cheryl hadn’t even met the patriarch matters not apparently.

Once anointed, the box pops open a drawer containing a bar of gold, which greedy Rich rushes off with until it dramatically burns his hand.

Shortly after this, it’s clear he is ‘someone else.’

The discarded gold bar melts down bloodily and rebuilds itself in a tree mural that sends David’s OCD into a tailspin.

the unwilling movie

Darren, now deep in cold turkey withdrawals from whatever mystery drug he is addicted too, decides the box can be used as currency and he can get a fix if he trades it; but it seems the box has other ideas and he finds himself in his own private repeating nightmare before he gives up and just returns to the fold.

Meanwhile Michelle decides to take a shower and emerges to find creepy Richard being a stalker. They rekindle some old heat but he turns murderous during his cheating dalliance and gets some scissors in the neck.

This scene is handled very well, never falling into the too much gore trap, and no unearned hysterics.

I like that the paramedics keep talking on the phone in the background during the scene; I like how their emotions seem authentic; I like that Richard takes a long time to die; and I like that everyone seems genuinely shocked and horrified at the intrusion of violence.

Things start to ramp up - Darren gets what he wants from the box and has to pay the price, and with him gone the entity that lives within the box has to find a new victim. The traumatised attendees realise they are inside the box, new rooms open and a secret is revealed. The ending is unexpected and is surprisingly effective.

the unwilling movie

This is professionally done all round. The direction is serviceable but the script is a less dumbed-down one than these types of films are usually burdened with – they trust you’ll pick up on small visual clues and throwaway lines without having to underline them. The humour is well placed and nicely droll, the acting above board, and not a single actor puts a foot wrong.

It’s a pity the box itself, being such a strong feature of the film, is not better realised, as the arts and craft look of it is quite off-putting and lowers the quality of the movie.

We’ve seen films about horrific boxes before, films about Demons and possession before, films about wishes and desires and the price of them all before, however this is made with care, ticks all desired ‘boxes’ and I enjoyed the characterisations. The only real problem is the lack of scares. There really aren’t any, and for a horror, that’s an ingredient its hard to do without.

With a few tweaks here and there this could’ve been big screen fare, especially considering I saw Truth or Dare yesterday and this film actually works better for me than that one. When you compare the budgets, the expectations and the professionals behind Truth or Dare, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

I’m glad I was ‘willing’ to give this one a shot!

The Unwilling is on DVD, blu-ray and VOD May 1st.