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The Unfamiliar Movie Review

Written by John Colianni

Released by Vertical Entertainment

the unfamiliar poster large

Directed by Henk Pretorious
Written by Henk Pretorious and Jennifer Nicole Stang
2020, 89 minutes, Not Rated 
Released on August 21, 2020

Jemima West as Izzy Cormack
Christopher Dane as Ethan Cormack
Rebecca Hanssen as Emma Cormack
Harry McMillan-Hunt as Tommy Cormack

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Supernatural horror has had its ebbs and flows throughout the years. Otherworldly beings wanting to possess humans as a way into our world. Demons who are the antithesis of evil relentlessly attack holy symbols and those who stand with their gods. But what if the true horror is the trauma someone can bring home from war?

Izzy, a British Army doctor, has returned home to her family after a tour in Afghanistan. After experiencing a series of hallucinations, Izzy’s husband Ethan suggests she is suffering from PTSD. But as one can only imagine, there are much more sinister powers involved. In Izzy’s absence, Ethan has seemingly released a demonic force on his family while studying Hawaiian culture.

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The idea of a character with PTSD while also battling a non-metaphorical evil has a lot of promise. This can be a relatable subject for so many lovers of horror. The unfortunate reality is director Henk Pretorious misses the mark due to a convoluted plot, forgettable characters and cultural appropriation. With a runtime of only 89 minutes, it is not an easy film to sit through. I expected plot devices to move the story along quickly, but what is seeming to lean heavy on Izzy’s war trauma is left by the wayside once the twist was thrown in my face around the 50-minute mark. All the usual supernatural tropes arrive in quick succession: possessions and body swapping, a seance, a wandering evil totem-looking figure and a savior that comes to fix everything (or one would be left to believe) by the end of the movie.

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There isn’t anything new delivered as a viewing experience in The Unfamiliar. What is pleasant to see is a production value that is rarely taken advantage of in independent horror. Acting is well above average and the sound quality and design of the film’s main baddie is a comforting thing to see. None of that matters however when the start to finish story falls flat.

The Unfamiliar is an “everything but the kitchen sink” supernatural horror film that will fail surprise even those new to the genre, especially when it comes to its climax. I can live with either loving or hating a viewing experience, but when I am left feeling apathetic, the only thing that was wasted here was my time.

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Movie: 2 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
John Colianni
Staff Reviewer - USA
Blogger, podcaster, stand up comedian, opinionated asshole, lover of double bass, left-wing liberal and crusher of the dreams of children. When he isn't pointing and laughing at the shortcomings of your offspring, Jersey John partakes in the finer things life has to offer: bacon cheeseburgers, online gaming and watching as cannibal zombies eat your family in slow motion. On repeat. In 3D.
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