When Bob Langmore (Aden Young, Rectify) realized he was turning invisible, he disappeared. Didn’t wait for his condition to manifest fully. Left a daughter (Julia Sarah Stone), and wife (Camille Sullivan) behind. Bob treated his condition like a death, and for most of Geoff Redknap’s feature film debut, The Unseen, you’re with Bob because of the way the process is depicted as being physically painful. You get the impression being transparent isn’t all that being invisible entails, but it is, and while Redknap’s modern take on The Invisible Man shows that being invisible has its drawbacks, Bob’s still alive, and that’s not insignificant (especially when you consider all the avenues technology offers to avoid human interaction these days, an angle the film doesn’t explore).
Instead, after eight years, Bob gets a phone call from his wife asking for help with Eva, who’s nearly 18 and newly distant. Bob decides it’s time he came back for a visit, but not before getting mixed up with a local drug dealer first (Ben Cotton). Then Eva goes missing, after sneaking out with some friends to an abandoned mental institution. Then it’s a father-daughter road trip movie…
There’s no question The Unseen changes gears too many times, and it would be nice to know where the film’s supposed to take place (Bob works at a log mill and there’s a Chinese medicinal shop that gains importance but other than that I have no idea), but that isn’t what undermines the movie (which for most of its runtime will keep you invested in what happens to the Langmore family). Bob’s anger is an interesting component, as well, because the film dedicates time to establishing a precedent for his violence, making multiple mentions to a hockey fight (Bob used to be in the NHL) but leaving it up to viewers to imagine what happened.
Bob’s temper really flairs when they don’t know where Eva’s gone (also occasionally in conversations with his ex, but they’re more fiery than volatile) and the film gains a sense of urgency when they’re trying to get into the institute to look for Eva. What becomes a bigger and bigger detriment to The Unseen are the plot holes. Certain ideas just don’t add up. The behind the scenes featurette on the DVD helps a little. Bob becomes more transparent in two days than he has in eight years, and that gets explained as the result of the trauma he experiences, speeding up the process. There’s also a twist at the end that makes sense of another unclear scene, but there are still questions and inconsistencies that niggle away at what otherwise was shaping up to be a good movie.
Also in the bonus feature: you get to see a puppet that was created of Bob/Young for a fight sequence where Bob is in bad shape, visibly speaking. The puppet made it so the camera could enter the room behind Bob’s head and still see the rest of the actors in the scene through the holes/invisible patches. It really makes you appreciate the films dedication to using practical effects whenever possible.
The Unseen is available now on DVD from Monarch Home Entertainment.