Dir. Geoff Redknapp
Starring: Aden Young, Julia Sarah Stone
Review By Greg Klymkiw
The first time I encountered the astonishing Australian-Canadian actor Aden Young was in the late, great Paul Cox's 1994 Tasmanian-set classic Exile. In that film, Young plays a man exiled for stealing a few sheep, which not only embodied his character, but did so in perfect tandem with the director’s trademark humanity. Young's performance in the film left me a shuddering mass of tears, as well as a kind of transcendent elation.
British Columbia-based Canadian writer-director Geoff Redknapp has chosen Young to star in his very odd blend of thriller and family drama (with dollops of Cronenberg-like body-decimation horror). Young's performance binds the picture's disparate mélange of genre elements together. When he's on-screen, which thankfully is a lot, the picture transcends some of its more TV-movie-esque family drama elements.
Young plays Bob Langmore, a northern British Columbia laborer estranged from his wife and teenage daughter, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). When she goes missing, he must re-assess his responsibilities as a man and father, as well as his ties to a criminal underworld. Adding insult to injury, Bob’s cursed - as is Eva. To reveal the nature of this curse, or rather, affliction, would spoil the picture, but it's worth mentioning that first-time feature director Redknapp is a highly acclaimed and sought-after special effects veteran. Use your imagination here until you see the film.
The film, in spite of its thriller/horror elements, is not especially thrilling, nor is it even scary. It is, however, occasionally creepy, and that’s always a good thing.
The picture works its magic best when it focuses on the working class/crime elements of the story as they impact the father-daughter relationship. Again, Young proves why he's one of the world's greatest actors - we can't take our eyes off the guy and he continues his Paul-Cox-enflamed ability to move us deeply. That said, he's given a run for his money by the compelling performance of Julia Sarah Stone as his daughter. The camera loves her and she's got definite star potential.
Redknapp’s picture feels like his screenplay, especially with the domestic issues, was been worked over one too many times by a few story “experts,” but, as a filmmaker to watch, he’s got the potential to go the distance.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars
The Unseen makes its Toronto Premiere at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival 2016.