The Unsettling (Movie Review)

What do the movies like 1959’s House on Haunted Hill and 1979’s The Amityville Horror have in common? They are both about an evil house, and in 2023 we have yet another film of this ilk called The Unsettling. Now, movies about evil houses have been around for decades, but what is it exactly that The Unsettling has to offer that is new?

The Unsettling movie still / Dark Sky Films 

Directed by Harry Owens (In Madness 2017, The Woman in the Photo 2018), and distributed through Dark Sky Films, The Unsettling is set for release in select theaters, as well as on digital platforms, February 10, 2023. More of a Thriller than Horror film, it follows a married couple by the name of Abena (Zephani Idoko: Bad Henry 2018, Nanny 2022) and Kwame (Bambadjan Bamba: Reality 2014, Black Panther 2018). In the wake of a tragedy, they decide to vacation in Los Angeles, but upon arriving at their mysterious rental house, weird things begin to happen. Soon the couple start to realize they are stuck in a nightmare far worse than they could have imagined.

Most of the story of The Unsettled revolves around the character of Abena; a mother who tragically lost their child. That in mind, Idoko sets the mood for the film as Abena with her very depressed, serious, and slightly anxious attitude. Then there is Bamba’s portrayal of Kwame which is positive, outgoing, and spontaneous. The acting is spot on when it comes to awkward, emotionally deprived conversations, and the main cast really deliver strong performances. 

 

The Unsettling movie still / Dark Sky Films 

These factors in mind, the tone of The Unsettling is quite disquiet to put it mildly. It has an overall darker dramatic looking feel, especially with the lighting, which tends to offer a very plain, yet ominous vibe. In fact, even the outside scenes seem to have a more drained of brightness sensation. As most movie viewers know, lighting can often make or break a film and in The Unsettling, this seems to be a big factor. 

Which leads us to a few aspects that makes The Unsettling stay true to its title. First, the opening starts off almost silent, providing a tense that jerks the audience into a short close up of the main character Abena screaming. Second, the entire film is very absent of any music… which is very strange for a Thriller. Third, where is everyone? The cast of The Unsettling is very limited, which is not exactly something new in Thrillers, but this is supposed to be a vacation, and most vacation movies have the strangest of characters at the vacation spot. Lastly, there is the actual ‘tragedy’ which led our characters to this place, and the flashbacks are powerful. Naturally Abena cannot let go of the tragedy; because losing a child is truly horrific beyond imagination. Although, the manner in which she is reliving these feelings tells a much more nightmarish story. 

The Unsettling movie still / Dark Sky Films 

In the end, the story is quite captivating, but the biggest problem with The Unsettling is the pace in which it is told. This aside, with lighting and sound working perfectly to establish a disturbing atmosphere, The Unsettling makes for a decent watch. Leaving you to wonder what else Harry Owens might have up his sleeve for the future. Only time will tell, but Cryptic Rock gives The Unsettling 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Unsettling movie poster / Dark Sky Films 

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