Review: The Unheard

Directed by Jeffrey A. Brown and written by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen, Chloe Grayden undergoes an experimental procedure to restore her hearing. Not long after she begins to suffer from auditory hallucinations related to the vanishing of her mother. Starring: Lachlan Watson, Michele Hicks, Brendan Meyer, Nick Sandow and Shunori Ramanathan.

Diving into this story there is a great deal of potential, not only to the initial idea of experimental treatment to restore hearing for the death but in the other layers of mystery it adds as Chloe returns to her former home. It builds a good tension and throws up some nice red flags to tempt you with what’s to come. However, it’s constantly splitting itself between the supernatural-esque hallucinations and the underlying mystery, when really the two should work in tandem. Therein lies one of the key problems for The Unheard, it doesn’t feel like everything is on the same page.

As time goes on that becomes clearer and clearer, as while the mystery lies overly dormant, the spooky remnants of sounds take an unexpected direction, one that doesn’t entirely work. The Rasmussens’ writing does have a tendency to include a few choices that don’t gel with the rest of the film. Particularly one terribly failed attempt at romance which comes out of the blue and only makes things awkward. The other key problem is the pacing, it’s massively undermining itself by moving at a glacial pace. There’s no convincing reason why this film needed to be over two hours long. It sincerely struggles to hold your attention as time goes on.

Having such a long runtime means that it’s trying to keep you on the hook for its final reveal, the sad thing is that when it does arrive, it’s too obvious. It hands you the clues to figure it out in plenty of time but you’ll probably look at it like ‘that’s too simple, they’ll be more to it’, but there isn’t. A huge portion of its effort is spent on the strange side effects of her treatment, they’re implied to be holding a much bigger story but again, they’re not. It’s trying so hard to create something original that it actually ends up right where you think it will, in familiar territory.

The performance from Lachlan Watson is one of the few things that keeps the film going, without that injection of naivety and kindness, you’d likely give up on it much sooner. Watson creates an interesting character in Chloe, she’s clearly capable and smart but at the same time, she’s a classic horror type of stumbling into a situation which she’s not prepared for. Although it does occasionally feel confusing what sort of true age and experience they’re trying to give to Chloe. As the look and air that they give her feel almost childlike but there are moments in the film that imply she’s older, it’s another way that things simply aren’t in sync.

The Unheard had great potential but it doesn’t feel like the filmmakers behind it had the skills to pull it off. It doesn’t feel as though it knows what it wants to be so it’s being pulled in multiple directions. On top of moving extremely slowly while it tries to figure that out, it’s constantly cutting itself off at the knees for what it can achieve. Unfortunately the most disappointing aspect of the film as a whole is that it implies for so long that it has something bigger, stranger and unexpected to offer, yet it ends up in the same place as a huge catalogue of films that came before it.

Verdict: ✯✯½ | 5/10

Streaming on Shudder from 31 March

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s