Thursday, June 21, 2012

'Unrest' needed to pick up the pace

Unrest (2006)
Starring: Corri English, Scot Davis, Jay Jablonski, Joshua Alba, Derrick O'Connor, and Marisa Petoro
Director: Jason Todd Ipson
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

A medical student (English) tries to unravel the mystery behind why everyone who handles a cadaver in the pathology lab turns up missing or dead... before she becomes the next victim.

"Unrest" is mostly an effective horror film that is one of the better iterations of the Japanese Inscrutable Angry Ghost That Can't Be Placated Or Stopped No Matter What You Do school. It benefits from an inherently creepy locale--a gross anatomy class and the cadavers that go along with it--and a more-interesting-than-usual Pretty-But-Suffering-With-Some-Sort-of-Mental-Truama first-year student, played here by Corri English. The notion of a psychic atheist who has to deal with a curse brought down by angry spirits and/or an ancient god is pretty a pretty neat element. The escalating supernatural events in the hospital as the are also very well handled, with some supremely creepy death scenes, and a chilling finale involving a cadaver storage tank. The filmmakers also effectively deploy every tool at their disposal from lighting to color scheme in the scenes, to camera angles and cuts, to sound design, in order to heighten the terror as the film goes on.

And even more praiseworthy, this is a film that ends when it's over. While it's got the nicety of a denouement, it is blissfully free of that non-shocking shock ending that plagues so many horror films. Sadly, as this movie was made in 2006, too many horror filmmakers still haven't realized that tacking a nonsensical "final scare" onto your story is ineffective and lame. But at least writer/director Jason Todd Ipson got it right here.

Unfortunately, for all its strengths, the film also has its weaknesses. The biggest is the question as to why our lovely med student continues to live in the hospital, with the growing number of supernatural events and outright murders taking place. The filmmakers try to address this question, both by raising it and attempting to provide rationales, but in the end, the answer boils down to "because if she doesn't, the story will grind to a halt, so just don't worry about it, 'kay?!"

Also, while the film has some great peaks of terror, its quiet moments are REALLY quiet. Too quiet. And not in a good way. They run a little too long, and they become a little too boring. The creepy mood never lets up, but more than once I found myself wishing that they'd get on with the angry ghost stuff, especially after the mystery of who the haunted cadaver was, and what the nature of the haunting, had been revealed. It's not so much that the film is padded, but more that some scenes just go on for too long.

If you like "The Grudge" films, or movies like "The Ring" and "One Missed Call", I think you'll like "Unrest". If Japanese horror flicks and their Americanized counterparts leave you an urge to do the dishes, you should skip it.

No comments:

Post a Comment