Paul comes across as your run of the mill, mildly creepy neighbour: an ex-pharmacist who suggests a change of dose to Gemma’s medication and with a wife whose disappearance remains a mystery, raises suspicions early on. As you start to question the sanity of both Gemma and Will, pieces begin to come together and what initially bills itself as a story of a family trying to overcome a tragic loss, quickly becomes something quite different in which Paul reveals himself to be much more closely connected with them than they thought. The film descends into violence and culminates with Paul revealing the real motivation behind his seemingly innocent invite.
The backdrop of the Lake District and the expanse of Windermere grace the screen with their presence throughout; providing an elegant contrast to Gemma and Will’s internal anguish as they battle to deal with their son’s death. An exploration of the human condition, The Unseen delves into the emotional and physical effects of grief, while accompanied by something much more sinister at its core.
The story itself is clever, however the construction has resulted in a tenuous plot and viewers may be found wanting in the tension department. The film sees two distinct ideas intertwined, both of which would have been more effective told separately. The performances, although thoughtful, remain relatively flat throughout which lends itself well to the story of a family dealing with the aftermath of their child’s death but subsequently punctures the “thriller” element.
What is missing is the build-up that glues you to the edge of your seat as well as the film’s ability to engage the viewer emotionally with the characters. The Unseen, with its strong opening, provides an intriguing and harrowing prelude to something that unfortunately doesn’t live up to expectations.