Written by: Daniel Hadley
Director: Sheldon Wilson
Cast: Jodelle Ferland, Niel McDonough, Sunny Suljic
The Unspoken starts out great. A local cop pulls up to a house out in the sticks to find the front door wide open and smeared with blood. He ventures inside only to be treated to a horror funhouse-like ride of slamming doors, blown out lights and bodies dropping from the ceiling. Needless to say he almost shits his pants more than a few times before back up arrives. With this opening my expectations peaked.
So was this movie good? Well, no, it wasn’t. But it very well could have been and I suppose if you look past the ludicrous third act twist (which I couldn’t) then this movie is sort of fun, at least up to a point, anyway. But before I get into that let’s get to the plot. So after the Briar family mysteriously vanish leaving only bloody smears and a dead priest behind, their home becomes notorious amongst the locals. Seventeen years pass by and a mother along with her young son move into the home and hire a local girl to help babysit. The son hasn’t spoken a word since his father passed and this is where the title of the movie comes from. We later learn that a group of young drug dealers have been stashing their supply in the basement, as they assume it’s the last place the cops will look. There are probably a multitude of other locations better suited for such a hideaway, but this is a horror movie and we have get the body count up – which this setup helps to do – I suppose. As the babysitter Angela, played by Jodelle Ferland, grows a liking to Adrianne, the silent child I mentioned above, some increasingly bizarre things begin to happen around them and it becomes pretty clear that something evil is lurking in the house. Or is it?
See, one of the problems with this movie is that it blows its load way too early when the local handyman gets his lower jaw ripped off by a rotting dog carcass at around the fifteen minute mark. I remember thinking “well that escalated quickly.” The attack is all done practically and looks kind of glorious, but that aside I still thought it was a bit much too soon. Then I realized that, well, this movie is pretty poorly structured and oddly paced. Things ramp up to eleven pretty quickly then drop off only to pick right back up a few minutes later. Angela knows something is fucked up with the place after only day two. I mean, at a certain point you just have to cut your losses. Is the babysitting money really worth it? It’s fucking babysitting money, I kinda doubt it.
Then the third act rolls around and we’re greeted with the most baffling twists I think I have ever seen. Throughout the movie I had been guessing as to what was going on and my stupidest guess turned out to be right. But only half right. I’m going to get into spoilers for the rest of this paragraph so if you don’t want anything spoiled then skip a head to the next one. Okay, so my guess was that maybe the boy had telekinesis and by Jove I was right! But not only that, it turns out that he and his mother are aliens. Fucking aliens. I’m sorry but you can’t set your movie up as a ghost story and then just pull the rug from under us in the last three minutes, especially seeing as how Angela keeps seeing visions of her dead mother looking all ghostly before putting a six shooter in her mouth and swallowing a bullet. And these aren’t just visions, she appears right in front of her at points. But no… it’s aliens, which means the missing family from the start of the movie just went back to their home world. You see they choose haunted houses to explain all the crazy shit their youngster gets up to, and it’s safer to let their kids mature off world. With a few re-writes that twist could have worked, but it’s so jarring and out of left field that it completely goes against the tone and atmosphere that the movie had set up. I mean the original title was The Haunting of Briar House. The twist just doesn’t work, and if the movie had stuck to its original title it would have been all the more baffling.
The gang of young local drug dealers have been murdering animals and leaving them around the home to appease whatever evil presence is lurking within. So… you have the option of tracking down and murdering dozens of animals, or you know, just stash your god damned drugs somewhere else. After their first attempt at getting the drugs back fails, they immediately go full nuclear and just decide to murder everyone in the house and get them back. As the young ring leader says “no witnesses.” Fucking seriously. You could just break into the home when no one’s around, or you know, just wear masks or something and hold them at gun point while you go down to the basement for a couple minutes. People aren’t animals, so murdering a whole family along with the babysitter should not be your plan B. I suppose after killing so many dogs and cats they just got a taste for it. There’s no other explanation.
The finale is suitably violent. There’re plenty of impalements by flying nails, flying knives, a weirdly spiked chandelier of sorts, but the movie had kind of lost me by that point. All of the over the top stuff is plenty of fun I suppose, but the movie takes such illogical leaps to progress its plot I just couldn’t buy into it, especially when the film takes itself so seriously. If you have all this crazy stuff happening then maybe have a little fun with it. The final twist might have worked if the movie had had a sense of humour about itself, but not one joke is cracked the whole running time.
So, this is a pretty bad film, but I can’t deny there is entertainment value in it just based off of its ludicrous plot twists and over the top finale. Oh, and the dead dog biting of the guys jaw off, that was pretty cool. So should you see it? Well, if anything I have said sounds interesting to you then sure, why not? But if you like your movies without jarring tonal shifts and ridiculous twists, then probably not.