MOVIE REVIEW: THE UNLEASHED / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MANUAL H. DA SILVA / SCREENPLAY: DIANE DA SILVA, L.A. LOPES / STARRING: TRISHA ECHEVERRIA, JESSICA SALGUEIRO, COLIN PARADINE, CAROLINE WILLIAMS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with The Unleashed, an old school horror film in which a bunch of damn fool kids play around with a Ouija board and unleash (hence the title) forces they can’t and don’t understand. The acting’s decent, it’s competently directed and the script isn’t an embarrassment. But unfortunately, it isn’t scary. Not even remotely. Spooky, ghostly white-faced figures pop up every now and again to look over people’s shoulders but they’re just not frightening; The Unleashed is, in every sense of the world, an entirely bloodless experience.
After her mother’s death, Madison Kennard (Echeverria) returns to the family home after an eight year absence to finally come to terms with demons from her past. Before long, her feisty former-friend Lindsay (Salgueiro) is back on the scene looking for good times. Lindsay installs herself in the house to keep Madison company and she organises a house-warming party with some friends. But then someone discovers an old Ouija board in the attic and suddenly long-dead spirits have been invoked and Lindsay isn’t quite the girl she once was…
The Unleashed has the distinct and unmistakeable whiff of the TV movie about it. It’s a bland and gore-free concoction, allowing itself only to be as scary as it thinks it can get away with. It relies almost exclusively on exhausted seen-this-before horror clichés and the occasional appearances of random spirits who just tend to stand around looking white and sinister, or by appearing out of nowhere in a desperate attempt to give the audience a bit of a fright.
But there are no frights to be had here, for this is clearly a film with no aspirations other than to play with over-familiar genre tropes and with no real idea of how to do anything original with them. Not only are there no real scares but there’s not much sense of urgency either; once the ghostly genie is out of the bottle, as it were, the film just sort of dawdles along with little momentum, focussing on Madison’s childhood trauma and offering little in the way of knuckle-biting, edge-of-the-seat tension.
Indistinguishable from literally hundreds of similar low-budget, straight-to-DVD horrors, The Unleashed isn’t bad but it’s utterly indifferent, absolutely inessential and ultimately, totally forgettable.