The Unfolding of Unoriginal Characters
While the haunted house horror film trope is nothing new, The Unfolding brings to the table a new subversion to the original idea with a clever subplot that outshines the main storyline.
The film itself, explained through a camcorder and several surveillance cameras, is of the highest quality with little to no motion sickness inducing shaky camera effects. From the opening sequence, the film has you squinting into the mist with the characters to try and identify what we’re looking at so it’s clear we are in the hands of competent filmmakers.
The plot follows Tam, a young psychical event researcher, and his girlfriend Rose, as they try to discover the supposed haunted history of a centuries old building. With the help of Tam’s professor Harvey and a medium named Muriel, the group dig up an ancient murder mystery and come face-to-face with an evil spirit.
This plot is very similar to a lot of other recent haunted house stories, but what stands out in this English countryside set film is the subplot which is told through various radio and TV recordings; the world is at the brink of a nuclear war and as the characters face greater turmoil, the worldwide disaster escalates.
Akin to the original found footage film The Blair Witch Project, The Unfolding proves that ‘less is more’ as the film constantly has you trying to figure out what is happening in the background of the camera without revealing too much. Well-framed shots and the monochrome texture of the film brings forward the infra-red horror that the characters are constantly faced with.
The film’s best feature is its sound design though. Muffled cries and barely audible whispers create an eerie atmosphere that frightens you all the more when mixed with the subtle but terrifying music. To then be led into the film’s several jump-scares invoke a true sense of tension within the audience. When we arrive at the final sequence, not only does the subplot become more forefront but the sound and atmosphere build into an experience that leaves you at the edge of your seat.
Despite the interesting storytelling, we are faced with quite unoriginal and stereotypical characters. Tam, the researcher who is devoted to his craft and won’t leave until he has proof of everything that is happening, just won’t listen to his girlfriend Rose, who keeps insisting they need to leave but won’t actually make an effort to do so and experiences the haunting at a much deeper level than anyone else. Then, of course, there is the goofy friend who also happens to be the “I’m not buying any of this” guy. Muriel and Professor Chessman are, essentially Lorraine and Ed Warren; a medium who “has an obligation” to banish the evil spirit and her helper who is equal parts a supernatural enthusiast and the academic “everything has a logical explanation” guy.
The Unfolding is not a particularly unique story when you remove the subplot, but it does hold some merit for its subtle sense of dread and incredible sound design if nothing else. I would recommend this film if you’re a fan of the found-footage horror genre.
- Compelling subplot that doesn’t distract from main storyline
- Superb sound design that adds to the horror elements
- Fast paced and exciting ending
- Unoriginal story and use of found footage genre
- Stereotypical characters that are hard to connect with
What are your thoughts on this film? Let us know by commenting below.
– Written by John Ardic