The Unseen Review

the unseen movie 2017
PLOT After the drowning of her young son Joel, Gemma (Jasmine Hyde) suffers spells of hysterical blindness. Invited to an isolated Lake District hotel by helpful stranger Paul (Simon Cotton), Gemma realises her husband Will (Richard Flood) thinks their son is haunting him and wonders whether Joel’s death was accidental.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

15 Dec 2017

Original Title:

The Unseen

If America’s nightmare getaway vacation spot is the run-down roadside motel (see Psycho, Vacancy), a viable British counterpart might be the picturesque but isolated rural guest house with unreliable mobile phone coverage. Following Joe Ahearne’s gay-themed B&B, Gary Sinyor’s The Unseen heads out from the oppressive city of its opening act to breathe in fresh air and ramble across lovely countryside while initially delighted guests notice more and more out of place elements and odd little drawbacks to their weekend break destination.

The creepy build-up plays better than the stabby finish.

The very plausible host Paul, a good samaritan who takes heroine Gemma to hospital when she is struck temporarily blind on a busy street, airily suggests she come and stay at the place he is doing up as a guest house but hasn’t actually opened yet – which means no other guests to get in the way of the plot. Paul has a) a supply of powerful prescription medicines left over from a failed career in pharmacology, and b) an array of hi-tech surveillance gear he says he needs to record rare birdsongs. There’s also the possibility that the real threat to Gemma comes from within the family, either from her husband Will – driven to lunacy by grief – or from the angry spectre of her young son Joel, who drowned under the cover of their basement swimming pool.

Slightly too staid to stretch the nerves more than mildly, The Unseen gets quality quivering from Jasmine Hyde – first struck sightless while driving in heavy rain, then blighted with turns whenever it’s most inconvenient/dangerous for her – while Simon Cotton and Richard Flood alternate smooth charm and sinister glances to keep open the question of whether to worry most about the supposed stranger or the supposed loved one. As with many twist-ridden psycho-thrillers, the creepy build-up plays better than the stabby finish.

A drama of upper-middle-class menace that can’t quite bring itself to be a full-on slasher movie, this has a few too many clichés but offers some creepiness and decent performances.
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