Review by David Paul Hellings
“A family move into a house where the previous occupants disappeared without a trace over a decade ago, in this relentlessly chilling fright flick from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious.
In 1997, the close-knit Anderson family vanished from their home without a trace. No bodies were ever found and, the notorious Briar House remained undisturbed. Until now…
When new arrivals in town, Jeanie and her nine year-old daughter Adrian, move into the house, they are unaware of its grisly past. But before long the local Sheriff calls, investigating recent reports of animal sacrifices, apparitions and other sinister events.
It seems that the past is still very much in the present and the new tenants must now face a fight for survival in this terrifying ghost story with an insidious sting in its tail.
Director Sheldon Wilson’s debut horror film, the cult hit “Shallow Ground” from 2004, was an extraordinary, ground-breaking genre movie. Achieving incredible results from a very low budget, it won the Best Feature prize at Edinburgh’s prestigious Dead By Dawn film festival and was described by Empire magazine as having “a grim wit, grisly edge, creepy score and a disconcerting denouement”.
With his latest terror outing, pairing with the producer of the Insidious and Paranormal Activity films, Wilson has done it again with this supremely scary haunted house flick, taking elements of horror classics like The Amityville Horror and The Haunting and blending them into something creepily original.
Starring Jodelle Ferland (who horror fans will recognise as the iconic girl from Silent Hill) as the teenager with the unenviable task of babysitting in a very unnerving spook house, Unspoken delivers a healthy dose of chills and packs a staggering twist that gives M Night Shyamalan a run for his money.
Unspoken received its world premiere at the 2015 London Halloween Frightfest and is now likely to scare up plenty of business with its DVD debut”.
- via Fetch Publicity
There are only a handful of haunted house films that have stood the test of time: “The Haunting”, “The Innocents”, “House on Haunted Hill”, and “The Shining”; with deserving mentions to “Poltergeist”, “The Grudge” and “Sinister” in more recent times. The original television version of “The Woman in Black” is the standout work on the small screen. Now, you have to work to avoid the haunted house sub-genre of horror, with audiences being force-fed a multitude of outings with their sound cues for story structure. Possession has also become the latest item on the menu and the real struggle now is to try and find a film in which, whether completely successful or not, the filmmakers actually try and come up with something different.
The producers of the “Paranormal Activity” series have found financial success with their recipe, as they have with “Insidious”. Director Sheldon Wilson aims to come up with new twists and plot moves in his second feature and, mostly, pulls it off, especially in a conclusion that is surprising and effective.
A strong cast work hard to create an outing that moves away from much of the standard fare and tropes as much as it can. The opening is particularly strong, setting up a haunted house story in a way that actually gives it more of a backstory and feel of place. Less effective is the local rednecks who’ve hidden drugs in the now years later and still abandoned house of notoriety sub-plot. Still, they do develop insomuch as being part of the kind of resolution that should please fans of the genre. The twist in the tail of the story should come as a surprise.
For fans of modern haunted house films such as “Paranormal Activity”, “Insidious”, and the “Poltergeist” remake.
Jodelle Ferland (The Cabin in The Woods, Silent Hill)
Pascale Hutton (Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, Fringe)
Sheldon Wilson (Director of Shallow Ground)
Steven Schneider (Producer, Insidious, the Paranormal Activity films, Blair Witch)
On DVD from Monday 5th Sept. 2016 and for download from Monday 22nd Aug. 2016.
This review originally appeared on sffworld.com at: