Fantasia Festival is off to a good start with two world premieres in my line-up to kick things off. Every Fantasia, I try to get a few Canadian films in there. Fact is, Canada has a lot of talent and sometimes it all ends up being tucked away and no one sees these really great works. Fantasia is that time in the year when I can see what it has to offer and its one of the many reasons I’m always excited for the festival.
This time around, we agreed to go see the world premiere of The Unseen hosted by the director Geoff Redknap and alongside as bonus, producer Katie Weekley and actress Camille Sullivan. Without even a trailer on the Fantasia site, the plot was enough to make us want to go. The premise seems like a refreshing one.
Let’s check it out!
The Unseen (2016)
Director and writer: Geoff Redknap
Cast: Aden Young, Camille Sullivan, Julia Sarah Stone, Ben Cotton, Max Chadburn, Alison Araya
A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible.-IMDB
The Unseen is a slow-burn horror thriller touching onto perhaps some science fiction with the whole Invisible Man premise. It is also an exceptionally intriguing watch with some parts that borders on dragging out but remembers to pick up its pace almost immediately. There are many strengths to this movie and a lot to love. First of all, the cinematography is fantastic mostly because where the movie is set is simply beautiful in small rural areas from the sawmill industrial area to the small town where the main character Bob’s family was located. It creates a feeling of isolation that works really well with the atmosphere The Unseen is trying to achieve. Second, the score itself is unnerving. It builds tension and drama when needed. However, the feeling I had in certain parts also applies to how I felt about The Witch earlier this year, and that is to see whether it is equally as effective if the score was removed. However, that may be one of the few criticisms (if it even counts as one) I have of this thriller.
One thing that needs to be touched on are the special effects and makeup which is the background of director and writer Geoff Redknap. He is part of some big budget films. The most recent being Deadpool. With all this experience, its hard to imagine that this film utilises not a lot of special effects or makeup. The invisibility part does take on a lot of the effects but The Unseen takes the turn of a progressive invisibility which adds on to the suspense but in the Q&A session in the end, he also talks about the decision to do that and also taking out the typical science gone wrong aspect and change it into a disease or condition of sorts, which is a unique and rather clever approach.
A lot of the credit of the success of this film goes to the engaging and intense character delivered by Aden Young who plays the main character, a father who has to leave because he realizes that he is mysteriously disappearing, leaving his young daughter and severing all ties. He lives by himself and he doesn’t attach himself to anything. The pain of disappearing is huge, so much that he needs to use drugs to numb the pain and yet he also acquires certain abilities. There are subtle nuances to notice about his condition and the character development of Bob is outstanding. Not to mention the disappearance of his character is gruesome and possibly the more horrific images of the movie with organs exposed and sections of flesh gone. The performance he delivers from a quiet and isolated man to his struggles and pains and then to his protective father and angry, unhappy man is all so captivating to watch.
That isn’t to say that the other performances weren’t done as well. Everyone delivers a fine performance but Bob is the center of action here and the focal point as he races with time before he disappears to find his daughter
The Unseen might not be for everyone but it definitely takes a unique approach at a mysterious condition that plagues a man. While I do criticize that it sometimes seems to drag and there is one particular scene that seems a little far-fetched and needs a little more explanation and seems a little misplaced in the plot, there is a lot to appreciate about this Canadian thriller. The best part is that the director works hard to put together a story that lets us as the audience derive the connections and make our conclusions through our own observations. It keeps us guessing and hints towards certain bits and pieces of the plot but manages to tie up all the loose ends and wraps up an intriguing thriller.
I could go on but a good thriller is one that deserves to be experienced and everyone will catch something different or build another connection. The Unseen is a Canadian thriller set in a beautiful landscape and full of outstanding performances with a tight-woven story. It has a few little criticisms but nothing unforgivable. In fact, at the end, I didn’t even bother to think about them because of the unique approach and the dramatic and thrilling story it told. If you get a chance, see it!