"Are they aware of...
the unseen force?"
directed by: Peter Foleg choice dialogue:
starring: Barbara Bach, Sydney Lassick, Stephen Furst, Karen Lamm, Lelia Goldini
(back of video blurb):
"Three women reporters go out on assignment. Encountering an unusual family with a retarded child, they find themselves staying overnight in a house occupied by an unseen force."
Well, its a genuine oddity thats for sure! For the first couple of minutes I sat there thinking it was going to be standard, if shot better than usual, fare. The opening is nicely atmospheric and sets an ominous tone. Then, all of a sudden something very strange indeed happens. The viewer is rudely interrupted by a cacophony of Danish oompah music! All becomes clear (?) when we realize that the three female reporters are on assignment to cover some bizarre festival of a little piece of Holland, hidden in a sleepy corner of California. Cue close-ups of children in frilly bonnets, old ladies in clogs and much oompah music. As if getting to cover this rural freak show wasn't a bummer enough, the three women find that their hotel has been double booked. After much fruitless searching they are offered board by a creepy museum manager (Sydney Lassick), who lives with his wife in a gothic monstrosity on the edge of town. Strangely, the three women are not too perturbed that the wife is always close to tears, not to mention that Lassick gives a very good impersonation of a sweaty lipped, lavacious Lucio Fulci look-a-like. In fact the pair of them act as if they are in a melodramatic silent movie. This is by no means a bad thing, it gives the movie an uneasy and almost surreal edge. In fact, although THE UNSEEN predates it by several years, I was reminded of John Hough's 1987 film AMERICAN GOTHIC (aka HIDE AND SHRIEK). Not only by the oddball couple, but also by the presence of a murderous adult still trapped in childhood. In THE UNSEEN it is a 'retarded' man who stalking the women in the house, appearing from under ornate grates in the floor. However, this film is no one trick pony and the emphasis on who should be feared most ,cleverly shifts throughout the film.
Strangeness abounds and a couple of scenes stand out as beyond the weird. One has Lassick 'impressing' his wife with the ,apparently fetishistic, clothes pegs on the face routine. There is also a cut shot of a cat licking an empty pair of shoes! The film confounds a fair few expectations, whilst generally staying true to the rules of the sub-genre. Much of the running time it feels like you are watching a fairly flat made for tv movie and then suddenly the director throws in a particularly sleazy peeping tom/t&a scene.
Another film THE UNSEEN reminds me of is Tobe Hooper's 1974 film THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Especially in the scenes where the first girls death is juxtaposed with the messy decapitation of a chicken. Also the climatic scenes are similar in tone, if not necessarily intensity, of that film.
Fairly light on the gore, but sleazily effective none the same.
BODYCOUNT 4 female:2 / male:2
1) Female has her neck broken in floor grate
2) Female has face smashed repeatedly into floor grate
3) Male has peice of wood with protruding nail slammed into temple
4) Male killed with shotgun