The Unseen (2016)

*. You know you’re in Canada when . . . the local crime boss shows up at your door waving a hunting rifle in your face. No Glocks please, we’re Canadian.
*. The DVD box has a pull quote calling The Unseen “the best of its kind to come along since Unbreakable.” Now, you may ask, just what “kind” of movie is that? I think what it’s getting at is the idea of the flawed, working-class superhero. But I don’t think comparisons extend much beyond that.
*. Actually, The Unseen is quite an original little movie. It’s the Invisible Man transplanted to a mill town, with invisibility being used as a metaphor. Our hero Bob (Aden Young) is a type of the white, working-class male who is becoming extinct. His job is disappearing, he’s already abandoned or been abandoned by his wife (who has shacked up with another woman), and he’s vanished from the life of his daughter, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). Next stop: oblivion.
*. A nearly literal oblivion, as Bob is slowly disappearing in the flesh as well. This isn’t because he’s discovered some secret formula but rather due to a genetic predisposition. A super power, maybe, but also a family curse. And just as his life is slipping away from him as he loses his identity piece by piece, so his flesh falls away like he’s some kind of living corpse going through a process of putrefaction. This is nicely rendered, and helps underline the theme of general social rot and the sense of personal loss.
*. I think this is all handled well by writer-director Geoff Redknap, though his statement that he was “going for more of a European art-house style” didn’t convince me. I also would have avoided the use of so many musical cues. This felt like padding in a movie that really didn’t need it.
*. Young does gruff well. Stone does cute well. The subplot with the medical institute seemed implausible and I wished they’d kept things a bit more grounded, but overall I thought this was a quiet but effective change-up from the usual fare that put a genuinely new (because contemporary) wrinkle into the old tale.

2 thoughts on “The Unseen (2016)

    1. Alex Good Post author

      Just a little bit. It really doesn’t play up the horror of invisibility as a disease (one’s body turning against oneself) and in the end has a kind of sweetness about it that Cronenberg doesn’t indulge.

      Reply

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