Unfolding (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Icon Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (3rd August 2016).
The Film

Tam Burke (Lachlan Nieboer) and his girlfriend Rose Ellis (Lisa Kerr) travel to Dartmoor to explore and record and activity in what they believe is a haunted house. During their trip to Dartmoor it becomes clear, via radio reports, that the World is in conflict and could be on the verge of a nuclear war. Upon arriving at the house two people that Tam and Rose had hoped would stay with them and record their experiences are leaving. They explain that the current crisis in the World means that they want to return to their families and that the house was giving them the creeps anyway. Despite this setback Tam and Rose decide to spend one night at the house. The couple explore the house and Tam sets up cameras and other recording devices. The next morning Tam is disappointed to find that nothing unusual has happened in the house. Tam persuades Rose to spend just one more night before heading back home. The following morning it appears, once again, that nothing sinister has happened in the house overnight until the couple venture into the kitchen to find it completely trashed with smashed crockery strewn about and the wall embedded with cutlery. Tam berates himself for not setting a camera up in the kitchen and then goes off to check the rest of the house whilst Rose cleans up. Whilst Rose sweeps the kitchen floor she thinks she hears a baby crying in pain. Whilst walking through the large grounds surrounding the house Rose tells Tam about the crying baby she heard. Tam then, once again, persuades Rose to stay with him for one more night in the house. When Tam and Rose return from their walk their find the bedroom they are using trashed just like the kitchen was. Nothing is missing from the room has been turned upside down. Shortly after these events Tam's friend Harvey (Nick Julian) arrives to help out. Initially quite sceptical Harvey is shaken when one night he sees and hears his dead Brother. Tam now feels the need for more help and calls in Professor Chessman but it seems even this house is too much even for him.

Films like 'The Unfolding' are not new. Hand held cameras and 'found footage' films have been around since the early 1970's but since the arrival of 'The Blair Witch Project' in 1999 the proliferation of these types of films have exploded. Finding a unique hook in any new film of this ilk was always going to be difficult and unfortunately 'The Unfolding' fails to find anything new to say. The film works best in the opening half an hour when it is just the characters of Tam and Rose in a large empty house but as soon as we have the introduction of Harvey the narrative becomes too spread out. Many of the camera angles used in the film also don't make a huge amount of sense especially the use of the camcorder as characters record pretty much anything even if it has nothing to do with their exploration into the paranormal (Rose, at one point, even films Tam and Harvey when it appears the arrive back at the house from a trip to the off licence). Another failing of 'The Unfolding' (apart from the rather nonsensical title) is that nothing actually happens. Most of the scares are confined to the soundtrack with loud screams. Occasionally we may see a door open on it's own but quite frankly I've seen that happen in my own house and it has nothing to do with ghosts and a lot to do with draughts. Characters report seeing ghosts standing on the stairs, or plants moving by themselves as if being tended to, or the sounds of whispering in their ears but the view sees or hears next to nothing. It looks like the film was a lot more fun to make than it is to watch. Director/Producer/Writer Eugene McGing pads the running time of the film out with lots of arty shots of gargoyles, trees, the moon etc... and these are fine at the start of the film to build and atmosphere but once the film hits it's stride these shots just slam the brakes on the movie and any suspense built drifts away like steam from a kettle. Despite 'The Unfolding''s failings this is still a slickly produce film especially considering it's obvious low budget. The house that features in the film is suitably creepy and the acting, especially from it's two leads, Nieboer and Kerr is of a good standard. Sadly 'The Unfolding' offers nothing new to the genre but it's a game effort none the less.

Video

This DVD from Icon Entertainment presents the film in it's original anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1 The film is a combination of monochrome and colour footage with the majority of the film in the former. When colour is used it's very washed out. This is not a fault of the DVD and how the original film was presented. As you would expect from a film so new there are no issues with the DVD with no damage or dirt visible at all.

Audio

The DVD has two English options in regards to the soundtrack. There is a Dolby Stereo 2.0 choice and the preferred Dolby Digital 5.1 option. For a film that relies on it's scares almost exclusively from the soundtrack the 2.0 option is very lacking indeed to the extent that it's almost not worth watching if you do not have the option of 5.1 surround sound. The rears speakers are used quite aggressively in 5.1 mode and the low bass that emanates from the sub woofer during the film is sorely missed when listened to in 2.0 mode. Dialogue is, at times, muffled on both tracks and because of this I was pleased that the disc incorporated English HoH subtitles.

Extras

This DVD is very light in terms of extras with no input from the film makers what so ever. What we do get is;

Introduction (2.25) - This in an introduction to the film from Frightfest Producers Paul McEvoy and Alan Jones who do there best to sell the film to an audience who have, presumably, already bought it.

Trailers
- 'The Lesson' (1.37)
- 'Landmine Goes Click' (1.42)
- 'Curtain' (1.16)
- 'Last Girl Standing' (1.49)
All the trailers are from the Frightfest Presents series of discs that have debuted this summer and I do find it curious that it would appear that on all these discs the trailer for the actual film on this disc is not represented in this trailer section.

Overall

If 'The Unfolding' had been released 17 years ago it undoubtedly would have caused quite a storm but as this haunted house/CCTV/hand held camera type of film has been done many, many times before 'The Unfolding' really needed to bring something new to the table for it to succeed. The threat in the outside World of Nuclear War and how this ties into the house itself is 'The Unfolding's attempt at doing something different with the subject but it never quite pulls it off. There are one or two decent scares in the film but if you have seen 'The Blair Witch Project' or any of the 'Paranormal Activity' films then not only have you seen it all before but you've seen it done better too.

The Film: C+ Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: E Overall: C

 


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