Wicked Wednesday: The Unseen (1980)

A lot of movies are forgettable. You watch them, shrug, carry on with your day then aren’t really able to explain what you watched on three hours ago to your friends. The Unseen is one of those special, forgettable films that makes me roll my eyes to the heavens asking why I’m cursed to waste my life watching/writing about these things.

Now on paper, The Unseen  sounds promising. It stars Sydney Lassick and Barbara Bach. It was directed by a Friday the 13th director (Danny Steinmann, Part V). It’s about incest, secret babies and journalists. But really, it’s so dull and really long-winded that I mostly feel ambivalent about writing about it.

Jennifer is a news reporter for a television station, out covering a festival called Solvang with her sister Karen and their friend Vicki. When the girls arrive in town, they are told that there’s been a mix-up and that they don’t have a room booked at the hotel in town. And since the festival is so popular, there are no rooms available at any hotel in town.

So the three women are forced to go out of town to look for lodgings. They stop at a museum, thinking it is a hotel. But the man inside, Ernest, is played by Lassick so is most definitely going to be a creep. He explains to Jennifer the situation at the museum, and eventually offers her and her friends a room at his own home.

When the girls arrive at the large farmhouse, Ernest introduces them to his wife, Virginia. She’s a wisp of a woman, and very distraught by the girls’ arrival.

Ernest heads out back to the museum after Jennifer and Karen go back to the festival. Vicki stays behind as she’s feeling unwell. This makes the perfect opportunity to kill someone off! After getting into bed for a rest, something reaches out of the floor vent and grabs her. She struggles again it, but it pulled down the vent. But the grate slams down on her neck.

While at the parade, Jennifer’s ex-boyfriend, Tony, shows up. This is easily the most confusing part of the movie. He’s mad that she left him without giving them a chance to work things out, but I’m also pretty certain she accuses him of beating her? Either way, Tony sucks. But Karen likes him and convinces her sister to stay behind in the town and work things out.

It turns out that Jennifer is pregnant, and plans to abort the baby because Tony hurt his knee and can no longer work? Again, I mostly don’t care. Point is: babies.

Meanwhile, Ernest is hanging out at the museum. A man begins to speak to him. It’s revealed that the almighty voice is from Ernest’s dead father. Oh and Virginia’s. They’re brother and sister. In his delusion, Ernest hears his father scold him for raping his poor sister (who is not the sharpest). When the dad mentions ‘taking care’ of the situation, Ernest recalls killing his father.

With Vicki out of the way, that clears the floor for Karen to get killed when she returns to the home. She drops a bowl of fruit and begins to pick it up, but her scarf if grabbed and pulled down into the vent, and her head slammed against the grate.

Virginia finds both of the girls and goes into shock. She tells Ernest, and he says they need to take care of the bodies to protect ‘Junior’ and get rid of Jennifer when she returns to the house.

Jennifer is dropped off by an angry Tony and left alone. She goes into the empty house and goes into the basement when she hears Ernest calling for her. She agrees to help him, but is then locked in the basement.

She begins to look for a way out, but instead finds the corpses of Karen and Vicki partially buried. She begins to panic and scream when something moves in the piles of crap on the floor. Jennifer feels even more panicked when she sees Junior. He’s a big lump of a boy, but he mostly just wants to play with her.

But Jennifer is kind of a bitch. She just panics and cries instead of appropriately assessing the situation. I suppose it’s because he killed her friends. Whatever.

Junior’s parents hear Jennifer’s screams and assume Junior is killing her. When Ernest goes to check, he finds her scooting away. He begins to strangle her with his belt, but she’s saved by Virginia. Then it’s Virginia’s turn to get strangled, but her son sees her in trouble and he pushes Ernest away.

Then Ernest attacks Junior (boy this is a fun movie) and gives his son a board-with-a-nail to the head. Believing he’s taken care of both his sister and his son, Ernest goes to look for Virginia. She’s made the silly idea of crawling into the chicken coop (she twisted her ankle or something so she can’t walk, apparently). He finds her and the scuffle over the ax.

Jen tries her best to get away, and it seems like things are about to end when Tony shows up! Only Tony is a dipshit and falls (remember that all-important knee injury). But don’t worry, Virginia FINALLY ends shit by shooting Ernest in the chest before he can ax Jennifer in the skull.

Like a boss, Virginia returns into her home. She returns to sooth her dying boy while the world’s worst couple make their escape.

The Unseen isn’t a bad movie, but I almost wish it was. Sometimes it’s better to make a statement than to hardly make a mark at all. I did enjoy that Virginia ends up being the real hero of the film. She had clearly been abused by her brother most of her life, and when she finally gets her revenge – you can’t help but cheering for her.

That being said, Jennifer is not that great. Mostly because her idiotic relationship with Tony ruins her character. All of the background about the abortion and the knee-injury is mostly just padding to get the film get to that 90-minute-mark.

The film does a lot of telling instead of showing. That goes down to a poor script. When the reveal happens that Virginia and Ernest are siblings, and have a child – it should be bigger. Instead a decision was made to have Sydney Lassick sit in a chair and talk to himself for a good five-minutes. It’s one of the more stranger story-telling devices I’ve seen in a film. And it really doesn’t work.

I wouldn’t tell anyone not to watch this film, but boy. You could really spend your time better elsewhere.

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