THE INVISIBLE MAN would be an alternative title to the occasionally inventive thriller called THE UNSEEN. It smartly encompasses several genres like sci-fi/horror, (yes, even) gay parenting, thriller, family drama, daughter/father relationship and crime noir and succeeds in each.
THE UNSEEN begins as a family drama. A separated husband and wife who obviously still care for each other but do not wish to make a go again for obvious reasons have a problem daughter, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone) who is living with her mother.
As the film opens, the daughter, Eva is about to take a trip with her friend, against the wishes of the mother, Darlene ( Camille Sullivan). It is revealed that Darlene is a lesbian mother, raising Eva with her female partner. The audience takes it to be the reason the father, Bob (Aden Young) and Darlene are apart. It is good to see current films like THE UNSEEN accept gay relationships as a given, quite unlike films of the past decades.
Writer/director Geoff Redkap shifts the story’s point of view among the father, mother and daughter, quickly but effective;y, resulting in a film that makes the audience more connected to the characters. THE UNSEEN begins with the mother’s, then the father’s then occasionally the daughter’s points of view on the incidents of the story though the film stays eventually settles on Bob’s, though all three are just as valid and interesting.
Bob Langmore is a former hockey player, now a struggling mill worker who years earlier mysteriously abandoned his family and isolated himself in a small northern town. He returns for one last chance, after losing his job in the oil drilling company (one assumes from the surroundings and work description) to reconnect with his troubled daughter Eva (Julia Sarah Stone) but must partner with Crisby (Ben Cotton) a strung-out animal trafficker, to finance the trip. When he discovers Eva is missing, Bob risks everything to find her including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible.
Director Redknap is fond of ambiguity. The northern town where the film is set is not named though clues are left as to where it might be located. A brief shot of a road sign at one pout in the film lists the town of Kelowna, south of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The history of mental illness in the family also leaves the audience guessing as to which side of the family it comes from or whether it has to do with the invisibility.
The invisibility occurs in stages with the victim suffering in pain. The film’s last third turns into action thriller mode with the film ending in a built-up climax.
Redknap creates a good compelling character out of Bob. Bob is an asshole at times in the film, threatening kids or the cops. But he is an asshole the audience will root for. So, when he gains his invisibility powers, the film soars to a new high.
THE UNSEEN is a solid Canadian horror piece. It appears initially to be the run of the mill at the beginning, but giving the film a chance proves Redknap’s mettle as a writer and director.