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The Unspoken | Film Review | Slant Magazine


The Unspoken

The Unspoken

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Although it bears no discernible relation to the film’s plot or themes, The Unspoken is a rather appropriate title for writer-director Sheldon Wilson’s limp haunted-house story, as the name is every bit as generic as the film itself. Set in a secluded country house that’s lain abandoned for 17 years after the family that lived there mysteriously disappeared, Wilson’s film offers up the usual haunted happenings—loud noises, objects flying around of their own accord—without any panache or personal stamp.

The story centers on Angela (Jodelle Ferland), a local girl who takes a job at the house as a nanny for Adrian (Sunny Suljic), a creepy young kid whose ghostly pallor and mop of brown hair lend him a distinctly Damien-esque aura. Soon enough, Angela starts experiences some spooky occurrences. Meanwhile, Angela’s girlfriend, Pandy (Chanelle Peloso), is mixed up with some local hoods who’ve hidden a stash of drugs in the old house and need to extricate it, leading to a film’s not-so grand finale, a face-off between the intruders and the mysterious force that haunts the house.

To reveal what exactly is behind these mysterious happenings would be to spoil The Unspoken’s final twist, one of exactly two vibrant moments in the entire film, the other being a delightfully over-the-top kill in which the rotting corpse of a dog springs to life to bite off a guy’s jaw. The sheer ludicrousness of these moments is charming, especially when set against the muddy indifference of the rest of the film.

Wilson’s approach is to deploy as many tried-and-true horror elements as he can think of—creepy kid, haunted house, satanic iconography, a bunch of jump scares—and just trust that something will stick. The problem is that he simply doesn’t have the chops to pull off any of these elements individually, much less to merge them into a coherent whole. With some wit and style, the film’s varied ideas might have produced an amusing little buffet of horror. Instead, the whole thing feels like Wilson tossed a bunch of third-hand scares in a blender and set it to puree, resulting in a gray, flavorless sludge.

90 min
Sheldon Wilson
Sheldon Wilson
Jodelle Ferland, Sunny Suljic, Pascale Hutton, Anthony Konechny, Jonathan Whitesell, Jake Croker, Chanelle Peloso, Rukiya Bernard, Lochlyn Munro, Michael Rogers, Neal McDonough