The story of The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells is classic science fiction that has often been adapted for radio, film and stage. Now director Geoff Redknap throws his hat into the ring with The Unseen, a modern take on the tale that focuses on a man, his mistakes and his legacy.
Bob Langmore (Aden Young) is a washed up hockey player. He had plenty of potential, but an incident in which he hurt another player left him without a career. His family life suffered too; after leaving his wife and daughter, he leads a reclusive life in the mountains working the odd shift at a lumber mill. Gruff and standoffish, Bob has a secret that he is loath to reveal: He is becoming invisible and has no idea why.
When his ex-wife Darlene (Camille Sullivan) calls him in desperation because of their daughter Eva’s (Julie Sarah Stone) rebellion, he begrudgingly decides to go to the city. After a painful accident en route, due to his transformation, he makes a deal with local crime boss Crisby (Ben Cotton) to be a mule in exchange for repairs to his truck. When he arrives at his ex-wife’s house, there’s a lot more than tough love parenting in store. Discovering that Eva is missing, and with Crisby not willing to be brushed aside during the family’s crisis, Bob’s condition worsens.
Redknap use of invisibility as a metaphor for an absentee father and his loss of self is clever, and the realism of Bob’s transformation, which reads as a terminal disease, is quite effective. The fact that Redknap keen eye for detail, he is a special effects makeup artist as well as a director, also enhances the overall production. The bandages wrapping Bob’s fingers and wrist are a clear nod to the original Invisible Man, but the anatomically correct display of his innards gives us a bit of horror gore. It also shows the skill and originality applied by the makeup effects team under Emmy nominated FX artist Toby Lindala.
The Unseen is consistent with its somber tone aided by the stark soundscape scored by Harlowe MacFarlane, but its main strength lies with the performances, namely the lead Aden Young. His portrayal of the tortured Bob was immediately intriguing and he captures the anguish of having a secret and wanting the best for his family. Stone is equally compelling as the rebellious but sensitive Eva. The father-daughter dynamic between the two is highly enjoyable, and they added an unexpected touch of tenderness to the film.
The Unseen, despite its slightly long running time, makes a noble attempt to meld family drama, classic science fiction and realism into a quite engaging film. See it for the great performances and the cool special effects.
Friday, July 22, 12:45 PM, SGWU Alumni Auditorium (Hall Theatre)
Tickets can be purchased at the Fantasia Film Festival website.