What I'm Watching: The Unwilling
Hello again, Triskwatchers! It's been another bit of forever since I last did a WIW, but I am back with another one. This time out, I am back with my thoughts on the new release, The Unwilling!
The movie stars Dina Meyer, Lance Henriksen, and holy shit, Robert Rustler is in this too?? I know all the horror fans remember him from Elm Street 2, but he'll always be Warren Keffer from Babylon 5, to me.
As for the plot, it revolves around the reading of the will after the elderly Mr. Harris passes away. This brings his family back together, and a few other people. None of whom have particularly fond memories of Mr. Harris, since he was an abusive, molesting prick in life.
They all gather at the home of his son David, who suffers from OCD, and everything must be done in threes. He's also an agoraphobe, and never leaves his home. So instead, everyone comes to him.
Once they all arrive, well...there's no will. But a package arrives mysteriously on the doorstep, containing a strange box that looks like it was spat up by Lovecraft. They at first can't find a way to get it open, but they do finally figure it out, and the games begin.
The box is a mystical macguffin that drives the bulk of the plot, and it starts infecting the people there, and picking them off one by one, as it offers them their heart's desire. And I am a sucker for movies that give us unique props, things that are all their own. This is very Lovecraftian in design as I said, and some of that carries through the rest of the film as reality becomes thin, and they all go a little mad.
As the box opens up more and more, the mystery of their father unfolds, and they all discover more about themselves as well. It's not a simple story about their father being a monster, but it turns out he was possessed by whatever the box contains, and it is now seeking out a new host amongst the family.
This does lead to my one giant problem with the story, and that is providing forgiveness, or an out, for a parent being abusive to their children. That doesn't sit well with me, and making such evil the cause of an outside influence is not a story I wish to explore. It works for this narrative, and the monster is a real bastard, but not a fan of excusing the father's behaviour that way.
Aside from that, this is a LOT of fun, and has a lot going for it. The acting is pretty great, for this sort of movie. All the performances are top notch, and my only problem with them is that the characters are SO broad and over the top, because the need to stand out, so you notice when they're possessed. It almost has them becoming caricatures. This leads to a few very silly moments, like when one of the characters starts driving to get away and freaking out.
But his inability to escape, always coming back to the house no matter which way he goes, leads to the movie doing one of my favourite tricks, and that is playing with rubber reality. It only gets stranger from there, as things turn in on themselves, the location changing around them, and even traveling to different times and places because of the box.
I like that this story of trapping people in a home and picking them off one by one is NOT a slasher story, and is more psychological. There's not a lot of blood, and things play out more like a puzzle being solved. It works well on that level, and dealing with human vanity and our own failings being our downfall.
I love that the movie almost exclusively loses practical effects. In this day and age, that really stands out, and it brings much more reality to the effects and events that I really appreciate.
I won't get into particulars, but I did love that ending. It was perfectly set up, well earned, and a great character arc.
This movie isn't the next great horror movie, but it does have some stuff to say, it explores some human condition, which is always nice, and the performances are quite good. I definitely recommend checking out The Unwilling.
But it really needed more Lance. It's a small role he has, however pivotal, but if you come to this expecting a Lance Henriksen movie, you might be disappointed. There is more than enough to keep you entertained though, so check it out!