New Horror Releases: The Unraveling (2017) - Reviewed

Billed as a horror film, Thomas Jakobsen’s The Unraveling is a look at how far a man will go to protect himself and his family when his past catches up to him. Michael (Zack Gold) is a drug addict and the opening of the film reminds us just how badly his benders have become. Jakobsen also shows Michael’s compassion as another strung out addict suffers. Is he as villainous as we think he is?

Jakobsen’s next layer is Michael’s wife, Jess (Cooper Harris). In a classic sense, we know not everything is right with Michael during the conversation with his wife; clues are left behind. The final establishing layer is the ‘real job’ in which Michael is working a loading dock and his boss has to reprimand him for being late; neither gentleman likes the other, but they tolerate each other because they have to.

The film takes a turn when he is kidnapped from his worksite and taken to the woods. It is revealed that his friends have actually kidnapped him to have a bachelor party in the woods, but Michael isn’t having any of it. And, as he tries to come to grips with his current reality, the power of suggestion plays tricks on his drug-addled mind.

As he falls further down the rabbit hole, his friends are there to support him. Alan (Jason Tobias) is the strongest of the friends, and the most genuine. Louie (Bennett Viso) has more on his mind than just the camping party. His character isn’t very good at hiding his true feelings, but it adds to the mystery of their surroundings. Shane (Bob Turton) is the jokester, always of quick wit. John (Jake Crumbine) is the most serious of the group, giving us a clue that something more sinister is afoot.

The set up in Jakobsen and Justin S. Monroe’s script reminded me a lot of the set up in Roger Spottiswoode’s Shoot to Kill and is the story’s strongest aspect. The characters all play their parts effectively building the tension and staving off the impending horror.

The 81 minute run time leaves no quarter for wasted time or energy defining anything but the current events, however some of the dialog seemed clichéd for this style film. Gold does a fine job as a recovering drug addict. Milton Santiago’s cinematography helps the dialog with a strong looking film, especially the reactions on the character’s faces.

Now on demand, Thomas Jakobsen’s The Unraveling uses its psychosomatic tendencies to deliver a tense, taut thriller with horror sprinkled in. 

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-Ben Cahlamer