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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unholy (2007) Horror

Unholy (2007) - " We can neither confirm nor deny the use of paranormal means to assure this nation's protection" - General Arthur T. Bradley and so starts the film Unholy staring Adrienne Barbeau as Martha, Nicolas Brendon as her some Lucas and Siri Baruc as her daughter Hope. If only there was hope for this film. It is a convoluted tale with strange ideas that eventually are spoon fed to the audience but only after an incredibly slow and plodding plot attempts to put us to sleep.
  Martha starts out by having a strange and rude interaction with  a store owner when trying to buy flowers for her daughter Hope. The acting from this man Richard Ziman seems so over the top, like the director pulled him aside and said "Hey Rich, can I call you Rich? I want more creepy from you, like your on a stage in the Coliseum in Rome and you have to project your creepy all the way to the last row. Can you do that for me buddy?" He is almost comical he is trying so hard to be strange and it immediately takes me out of the movie. Barbeau for her part is fine at being a bit freaked out by the guy and when she gets out of there only to have him follow her because she has forgotten the flours she and we have to endure another equally overacted interaction with the store owner.
  Arriving home she sees a note on the table that reads, In the Cellar, and heads to the bulkhead door to find it locked and her daughter Hope inside with a shot gun. Now already thrown off by the earlier scene it takes a bit to get into the drama of this one. But both actresses are up to the task and soon it seem that Hope is a bit off her rocker. She thinks she is being experimented on and does not want to go on in her life. Martha for her part tries to talk her daughter down and mentions that she can't lose someone else in the family. Widow I supposed and when the scene plays out to the demise of young Hope I am thinking that this is a movie about ghost or something. I mean immediately after the death scene we see this weird ripple in the rug of the living room like a door from another reality was about to open. It is brief but definitely setting something up for the future. So the idea that maybe this is a story of how a family comes together after the death of a loved one and work through their issues is out.
  Hell things go to pot rather quickly in this one, Lucas come home to bury his sister and to comfort his mother. He is not even in town a day when we go head long into solving the mystery of the suicide. What mystery you ask? Well that's the rub to this point there really is no mystery, it just looked like a disturbed girl taking her own life. The writer Sam Freeman is to blame here, he has an idea for the plot but has yet to learn how to execute the telling of the story in a smooth way. So without scenes of grieving and maybe an incidental exposure to a clue that would put Martha and Lucas on the road to "solving" the daughters death, we get Martha already sure something is not right, insisting Lucas help her.
  The side characters brought in to move the story forward are all disposable, The Store Owner and his daughter Cammy (Cheyenne Casebier), The neighbor Charlie (Merwin Goldsmith), his former wife and town crazy Gertrude (Susan Willis) in fact the scale of the film is tiny with these characters being the cast  and after they give the audience the information they need they no longer are needed. Again a bit of rough writing. They exist to give us a story about Lester Krauss (Joseph McKenna), a former Nazi doctor who was co opted into working with America on experiments in the field of the Unholy Trinity. What is that you ask, well it is time travel, invisibility and mind control of course. It seems that Krauss was convincing enough to get the US to look into he pseudo scientific bullshit and when he died an American doctor took over the experiments. They have been running these experiments on the townspeople of this movie.
  Most of the exposition on this plot is given by the crazies with a paranoid conspiracy tone that could actually be believable if not delivered in such overacted ways. Our main characters Lucas and Martha realize that Hope was being experimented on and then realize that they too are subjects. Martha is losing time, we see her go to bed, then she will convulse on camera and we see flashes of Krauss in his medical garb, holding a scalpel. The skin being cut and torn and blood. Then Martha wakes and has lost time so that's how we know she is being experimented on. Yeah I know it doesn't make a lot of sense and director Daryl Goldberg in his first effort hopefully learned a lesson from this film. Shit has to make sense or no one will want to see your movie!
  The production values on the film are pretty low. Filmed in New Jersey in what can only be described as a gray color scheme the idea that these people are isolated in there small town come across, but the severe isolation of the characters with a total lack of walk-ons in the back ground anywhere in the film makes it feel really low budget. Sure it adds to the depths of loneliness the characters experience but also it is just a bit odd.
  In the end we find that each of the Unholy Trinity has been completed. No purpose is for any of this really, so what if there is this time travel experiment, there is nothing outside this small town. No imminent threat to the rest of the world. Invisibility really? Mind control, it not like anyone could control my mind and say this film is great because it is not. There really ends up being no investment needed in the outcome of the film. There is nothing at stake because the characters are just these small time folks and the only threats are to them. So when the film gets weirder still and that weirdness twists upon itself, we don't care.
Rating (2.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

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