THE UNFOLDING

5 out of 10

Release Date: 1st August 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Eugene McGing

Cast: Lachlan Nieboer, Lisa Kerr, Nick Julian, Kitty McGeever and Robert Daws

Writer: Eugene McGing

Trailer: THE UNFOLDING

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This low-budget poltergeist movie is the perfect choice for those looking for yet another ‘found-footage’ horror. Or is it? A lot of the footage was certainly shot on a hand-held by characters within the narrative, but as the story also seems to be occurring at the end of the world, who is been left around to edit it? Squirrels?

A precariously happy couple venture to a haunted house on Dartmoor to investigate some supernatural occurences at a remote country pile. The boy, (LACHLAN NIEBOER – IDENTICALS) seems to think that its important to capture a ghost on film before the world blows up (or something). His girl, (LISA KERR) is also psychic and highly strung like most girls in films about haunted houses. Things go bump in the night, knifes get thrown, a voice in the cupboard and icy pipes kick proceedings off, so the couple reluctantly stick around to find out more. Seeing as they’ve come all this way, they may not have enough time to drive all the way home. Several people pop in to help like Robert Daws (OUTSIDE EDGE) as an ineffectual professor of the supernatural. There’s a dinner lady, sorry a medium and a disposable best friend. It’s all pretty straight-faced and reasonaly well-accomplished within it’s limited area.

Is it scary? Yes, at times. It’s rather good at building suspense, but the results and outcomes are regularly disappointing and lead nowhere. An invisible garden seems to hint at the girlfriend’s ability to time travel but the idea is dropped almost as soon as its picked up. The end of the world hook isn’t great either because it doesn’t fit the central story. Why prove ghosts exist when the world is at an end? Why not? But its a clunky match.

The Unfolding is solid if you are particularly undemanding and make a habit of watching this kind of film. It offers the odd surprise but nothing incredible so that you’d recommend it to your friends. Very middle of the road.

5 out of 10 – Well acted by a committed cast, it’s periodically scary but overall it’s business as usual for this over-familiar found-footager.

Review by Matt Usher below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Lachlan Nieboer: Trendy, Identicals, Suspension of Disbelief, Into The White
  • Kitty McGeever: Emmerdale (TV), B-Monkey
  • Robert Daws: Poldark (TV), Casualty (TV), The Royal (TV), Coronation Street (TV), Roger Roger (TV), Outside Edge (TV),  Jeeves & Wooster (TV)

 

 

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One thought on “THE UNFOLDING

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    In 2015 some independent film-makers made a film about the imminent end of the world, which would be, they thought, in the second half of October 2016. Well, look how wrong they were: we’re now in January 2017 and the world’s still here despite Brexit, Trump, Aleppo, loads of celebrities dying, everybody else dying (including one member of the cast of the film)… hmmm, maybe they were onto something after all.

    But it’s not just a simple pre-apocalyptic love story (sorry, that’s a spoiler which ruins the whole film), it sells itself as a good old-fashioned haunted house spinechiller. A young couple go to Devon for a holiday. Unfortunately they have with them a video camera, which they use to record their most mundane discussions, the most boring roads, every passing bird. This can mean only one thing, they’re in a found-footage film and will die and we’ll never see what killed them despite them leaving the camera on all the blinking time. But this one has a twist! (I know, they all have twists.) They aren’t just holidaymakers, they’re ghostbusters heading to a haunted house of mystery. And in the background the end of the world is nigh as there’s a nuclear war looming.

    THE UNFOLDING is really odd, though the title is quite apt, because as the film unfolds it gets (slowly and marginally) better. The lead couple are pretty insipid, lethargic and very thick. But as more characters turn up and things get more and more fragmented, confusing and obscure, it becomes more interesting. Things particularly pick up when the ghost nonsense is swept away and the whole nuclear war thing takes centre stage. Mind you, it’s more than a little worrying if (as the film tacitly posits) Devon is where the first bomb goes off (unless you don’t live in Devon I suppose but what happened to that ‘we’ll destroy all the cities first’ notion?).

    It’s a very frustrating film; it could have been astonishing but there are far too many unforced errors and it ends up being flawed, terrible, occasionally good, and generally all over the place. There are lots of ideas but the film-makers don’t know how to knit them together: there’s a story strand relating to a mysterious lost garden, but it goes for nothing (in part because the video camera they’re using fails to capture anything). The found footage structure is particularly weak. The film-makers don’t bother with a ‘this is stuff we found on a camera somewhere’ conceit (which is understandable given the end of the film) and there’s no thought given to how the material (including CCTV footage) was edited together. It would have made a lot more sense to make a conventionally structured film with occasional found footage inserted as appropriate.

    The director also sometimes forgets to ask the actors to act. There are a fair few blood-curdling bangs, bumps, crashes and cries in the night, like feral removal men doing a bad job, but too often the characters just reluctantly get out of bed like someone wearily attending to a sleepless infant. But what are our heroes doing in bed anyway? Perhaps I should rephrase that. The ghosts cause ceaseless nocturnal torment, so our heroes decide to get some shut-eye at night? Fair enough for the first couple of nights, but our heroes stay there for 10 days or so. Why didn’t they leave? (By the end we’ve got characters saying stuff like ‘I can’t leave I need to do this I’m part of events’ but that doesn’t explain why they didn’t scarper the moment the caretaker said ‘leave this place of doom’ (or words to that effect)).

    And then there’s the Muriel problem. Our heroes call in a professor, who brings in Muriel. Muriel is a name that is all but obsolete except among women in their nineties. Yet this Muriel is perhaps in her fifties. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, except the professor who keeps saying ‘Muriel’ is played by Robert Daws. Daws is best known for 1990s sitcoms, and has a tendency to pronounce the letter R as W. He’s quite good in the film (he’s a lot more restrained and naturalistic than he used to be, apart from a bit where he’s talking into a Dictaphone a bit too David Attenboroughishly), but whenever he said ‘Muriel’ I laughed. It’s not entirely his or the film-makers’ fault, but Muriel was the name of an off-screen character in one of Daws’ old TV shows (a favourite of my late mother’s, so every reference to ‘Muriel’ was simultaneously comic and nostalgic). And I’d happily acknowledge this as entirely my failing, except why didn’t they call the character a proper name? You know, a name someone might actually be born with in the 1950s? Like Sheila or Susan? Muriel is a hugely important, serious character, a (genuine) clairvoyant/medium who finds herself in a life or death tussle with a malevolent spirit. It’s almost as if the film-makers have never even seen Roger, Roger (which is, I suppose, quite possible) (But what’s wrong with Brenda? Maggie? Barbara?).

    For all its faults – at times it feels like the film-makers are deliberately doing things wrong just to see what happens (like the bit where a character is alarmed by a moving plant, though we don’t get to see it moving – it’s definitely not among the scariest scenes in cinema history) – THE UNFOLDING does, in a weird way, work. The atmosphere does eventually become ominous, and, in the end, it somehow manages to cast something of a gloomy spell. If you actually were spending the last days of civilization (aka the fortnight before Mr T’s inauguration) in a haunted house in Devon, then I guess it might be a bit like this. But don’t take my word for it, the editor of this blog lives in Devon – his house is bound to be haunted; I’m sure he’ll report back on any occurrences after doomsday (January 20th 2017).

    Good luck.

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