‘Unrest’ Review: The Twist Is It Isn’t Scary

Posted in The Screening Room by - December 16, 2015

Ah horror, what a wonderful genre to be in a time of rapidly developing CGI and dried out, overused plot lines. Now call me a stickler but I’m of the opinion that to make a good horror movie, or at least something partially enjoyable you need to succeed in one of the few departments that characterize a good movie. Be it convincing acting, strong plot structure, compelling dialogue or even just some fun CGI. Now the thing about Unrest is that it fails in all of those departments. You can probably tell that I’m not a big horror fan, because – like I said – it’s hard to make a good horror movie in a time where every schmuck with a degree in cinema can churn out an hour and thirty minutes of crap and try to sell it as “The scariest move of the year.”

That’s exactly what director Jason Todd Ipson did with this run of the mill horror. He took an incoherent plot, a weak screenplay, threw some stale acting into the mix and out popped this disappointing 90-minute cliché stew. Now I’ll give him some credit, it was an interesting premise at the very least. A team of first year medical students must dissect a cadaver in their gross anatomy class. The twist is that the cadaver carries an evil curse from an ancient South American burial site. The added medical school setting at least gave the movie something to set it apart from all the other “evil spirit seeks revenge” flicks out there. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to save this movie from itself.

The major flaw in this film is that despite being classified as a horror film, it’s not scary in the least. And by that I mean there’s no shocks or unsettling scenes that keep you intrigued and give you motivation to keep watching. Honestly they really should’ve called the movie Restful because of how easy it is to use this snooze-fest as a lullaby. However, it would be unfair to say that it completely misses its mark. The very first scene involves a woman (Marisa Petroro) staring at the camera. She maintains eye contact for a few minutes as tribal chanting in the background builds and the camera zooms out. It was a very strong beginning for the movie because it drew me in, I was interested to find out who this woman was and why she was acting in such an unsettling manner. Mainly, the film at this point seemed like it would lead somewhere, that scene showed that the director at least had an idea of what was fear inducing. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, because immediately after we’re introduced to the stereotypical comic relief blue-collar morgue workers whose cringy bantering makes the movie almost painful to watch.

This is another big negative in the movie, the abrupt and constant tone changes from scene to scene. One second a person is showering, the lights go off (very original I know) and cue the creepy music. The tension builds, the audience is mildly interested, who knows what could happen?

Spoiler: nothing. The characters sort of shrug off the fact that evil lurks at any corner when the film decides to add a “human” element to the mix. Well Mr. Ipson, there are other ways of humanizing your characters than making them have sex after a life threatening situation. The movie is essentially that illusion of fear and danger repeated constantly and suddenly it’s all gone. There are films that have mixed humor and horror together very successfully (The Cabin in the Woods for one), but in Unrest it’s just jarring. It makes watching the movie especially unpleasant. Not that it had much going for it in the first place.

Aside from that you have the constant chanting any time the movie wants to try and be scary. You don’t need to watch the movie to know when a scary scene will happen, just listen to the creeping build of Aztec voices and you’ll know when to look away. Not out of fear mind you, probably just to spare your eyes the horrific amalgamation of bad acting and dialogue. Along with the weak and overused score you have the plot holes. Oh the gaping enormous plot holes. This film could get away with being called Swiss Cheese and you’d only need to watch around 10 minutes to understand why. The main character (Corri English)’s only motivation to find out more about her cadaver is because she “feels things.” Really? That’s the best you could do?

At one point six people who were involved with the cadaver in some direct way are dead. AND NO ONE CARES. It seems the main character and her boyfriend are the only ones smart enough to make a connection with their deaths to the body because everyone else just goes about their business. Perhaps the most hilarious plot hole however, is that when Dr. Blanchard – the main character – is running screaming for medical help in a hospital, only two people end up hearing her. Apparently no one is on night shift at a hospital, go figure.

Unrest didn’t have particularly strong actors at its disposal but they weren’t the worst choices. Corri English was somewhat convincing at times. It was mainly the script that did a disservice to their skills. In the end however, nothing in the movie was meaningful. It wasn’t scary or unique, it didn’t have a good soundtrack, it definitely wasn’t interesting. All in all, Unrest is the perfect description for the movies in dollar bin at your local Walmart.

Final Verdict: Skip it

This post was written by

When not drowning in school work or ignoring social obligations he enjoys watching movies on just about anything. Currently making his way through the cinema classics he hopes to one day write a novel, but he’ll probably end up playing The Witcher 3 instead.

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