Movies used to be short. There was a time when 90 minutes was enough time to tell a story, introduce characters, make revelations, and more. Ninety minutes was enough to take us to another place where we could detach ourselves from reality and meet some new people. That time is long gone, with movies becoming more and more expansive, resulting in a longer runtime. Unseen, a new production from Blumhouse, is here to show us just how efficient a short movie can be. The film will be available at Paramount +.
The film is directed by Yoko Okumura and stars Jolene Purdy, Midori Francis, Missi Pyle, and Michael Patrick Lane. The film tells the story of two women living totally different lives. Sam is a woman trapped in a low-end job in a strange alligator-themed service station. Meanwhile, Emily is an ER doctor with her own family issues. However, their lives collide when Emily gets kidnapped, and it seems like Sam is the only person who can help Emily escape.
Unseen can be seen as just another one of those Blumhouse productions that are doomed to failure and to be forgotten. The movie is not getting the amount of publicity or support that other films from the production house get. However, after having watched the film, I simply have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable films of the year so far. Is this a movie that is designed to win awards? Not at all, but it is perfectly designed to be frantic, chaotic, and just enjoyable from start to finish.
I began talking about running times because Unseen manages to do a lot in just under 80 minutes, which is fantastic. The setup of two very different women getting connected in one of those worst-case scenarios is gripping from the very first second. The film doesn’t wait to start, and from the first frame, I was captivated by the energy the movie gave me. This movie has a ton of style and choices that make it seem like it could belong in a grindhouse type of cage, but it never goes into full gore or anything like that.
The chaotic energy really immerses you in the story, and by the time the first act is over, I am completely on board. I need it to see the end of this story. Thanks to the short runtime, the movie maintains a frantic pace without slowing down too much in certain sections. The movie does slow down and allows the characters to explore their feelings about their situation, but these sequences don’t overstay their welcome. There is a very nice balance between character and action development.
Sometimes these two types of developments are made simultaneously, which is quite efficient. The movie also displays this efficiency visually. Sometimes the movie has to split the screen itself into two sections. In this way, you can see what is happening to both characters simultaneously. This tool is used to its fullest potential in the most intense moment of the story to a fantastic effect. Do you know those montages that Christopher Nolan often uses towards the end of his film to raise the action and intensity? There is something similar being done here.
Editing is one of the main factors in making the movie feel intense. There is a sense of urgency as the film moves through several sequences at the same time or simply matches cut intense moments one after the other. The entire film has a very intense music video quality but in a good way. You can feel that Okumura was really going for this urgency when the movie focuses so much on creating tense scenarios. This is a movie that is definitely not for people who are anxious very easily.
So, the atmosphere is excellent. The premise works, and what else? The movie’s strongest point comes in the form of its two leads. Purdy and Francis really give this movie the sense that things of importance are happening. Both of them sell their characters as normal people who sadly got into situations they didn’t want. As the movie progresses and these two start to know each other, you can definitely believe that these two are great people.
However, as I said in the beginning, the film is imperfect by any means, and the plot sometimes feels too convenient. Of course, before starting to watch any film, you must sign a contract with the premise. This is a normal exchange, but everyone has their own limits, so some things that happen during the movie feel too convenient. They are exciting, but it is hard to say that that could happen so easily in real life.
Some of the villains feel way too cartoony to be real. Our main characters face internal and external challenges, but the external challenges and the characters that represent them feel like they are coming from a totally different movie. Maybe it is because they are painted from each of the girls’ points of view, but nonetheless, their motivations are as paper-thin as possible. This is not to say that these motivations are impossible, but the possibility shouldn’t be the standard for why things are happening.
Ultimately, Unseen is a blast of a film that respects your time. The creative team behind it knew that going straight to the point was the best possible way to make this movie. Other movies would add extensive dialogue scenes that are just redundant or would have even given the villains their own plotlines. Unseen knows whose story they are telling, and the film is better for it. It might not be the best movie you have ever seen, but the enjoyment factor is quite high.