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The Unseen is a thoughtful departure from well-trod Invisible Man tropes

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Director Geoff Redknap’s first feature, The Unseen, stars Aden Young as Bob Longmore, a man with a disease that causes his body to slowly become invisible.
Director Geoff Redknap’s first feature, The Unseen, stars Aden Young as Bob Longmore, a man with a disease that causes his body to slowly become invisible. Photo courtesy Goonworks.

It’s not uncommon to see genre films focused on fantastical creatures veer off into ludicrous territory – becoming so enraptured by the imagined beings on-screen that, as a consequence, the human co-stars become themselves ethereal. Geoff Redknap, writer and director of The Unseen, said he started developing his movie with a real-world element front of mind.

“I did want to make a genre film, and I love genre films, but I also wanted to make a good dramatic story,” Redknap said. “When people ask me what my favourite kind of films are, I say good ones. I hate going to see the latest horror movie and it’s just garbage. It’s got to work on all levels.”

With the idea of developing a new take on a genre film in mind, Redknap said he began deliberating on what story “hadn’t been done recently and what hadn’t been done well recently,” eventually landing on the story of the Invisible Man.

“I started thinking about it, trying to come up with what I could do that could make it very different. It’s always the same story about a scientist experiment,” he said. “They either achieve the invisibility or something goes wrong – I didn’t want to tell that story again. Right out of the gate I just said, ‘Let’s forget the scientist stuff. Let’s forget the experiment stuff. No labs, no test tubes, no Jacob’s Ladders.'”

The Unseen stars Aden Young as Bob Longmore, a man afflicted with a strange disease that causes him to slowly become invisible. Seeking to hide the disease’s progression from society, Bob lives in seclusion in northern British Columbia, having abandoned his family years earlier. But when his daughter goes missing, Bob must return to the family he abandoned while grappling with the circumstances of his evolving condition.

According to Redknap, a big breakthrough while developing the film was the concept of invisibility as a progressive condition, which found Bob “slowly fading away piecemeal.”

“The beauty of that new idea was that it kind of reversed the traditional concept, which was when a character is completely invisible it’s essentially a superpower,” he said. “They can go anywhere unseen, they can get away with whatever they want for the most part, unless somebody throws paint on them or something. It’s empowering – they’re a super villain, usually. But the idea that it was slowly happening to somebody turns it around, because it becomes a curse, for lack of a better word.”

While writing, Redknap said he tried to imagine what he himself would do if he were inflicted with the disease depicted in the film.

“Well, I thought, you’d hide it. Unless you had total faith in medical science and you go running to your neighbourhood doctor and say, ‘Hey, what’s this?’ – but decades of cinema have taught us that that never goes well,” he said. “It became a burden, and a curse, and a problem that he had to deal with and something that, in his mind, endangered all his loved ones. Because if he’s discovered, they’re going to take his family. So that was a big change.”

The character of Bob, who while living in seclusion works as a logger, was loosely based on a childhood friend of Redknap. Redknap said in seeking to make the film feel like a real world, he sought to avoid “ridiculously over-the-top caricatures” and instead make each scenario feel real and dramatic.

“A lot of these small towns are fading away. Their industries are either drying up or they are being modernized,” Redknap said. “I grew up in a town that had two sawmills and a mine and now it has one sawmill. So I think there is a metaphor (in the film) for the struggle of the working class.”

The Unseen is set to play a number of Canadian dates this summer prior to its release in the United States later in 2018. Redknap said first-time viewers were likely to see a film that plays out contrary to expectation.

“If you’ve heard anything about the film, it’s probably not exactly gonna be what you expect,” he said. “Most people going into it say it’s a straight-up horror movie, and they get rewarded with I feel is a very well-structured human story. A dramatic story that happens to have an invisible man in it.”

The Unseen plays June 29 at Carlton Imagine Cinemas in Toronto. For more information, visit the film’s Facebook page.

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Schitt’s Creek to conclude after next season

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The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.
The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will conclude with its sixth and final season, star and co-creator Dan Levy announced in a statement today. Photo courtesy CBC.

The popular CBC sitcom Schitt’s Creek will end at the conclusion of its sixth season, series co-creator and star Dan Levy announced March 21.

“We are so grateful to have been given the time and creative freedom to tell this story in its totality, concluding with a final chapter that we had envisioned from the very beginning,” Levy said in a statement. “It’s not lost on us what a rare privilege it is in this industry to get to decide when your show should take its final bow.”

Schitt’s Creek premiered on CBC in 2015, becoming one of the network’s most successful half-hour comedies ever. The show follows the fish-out-of-water Rose family, forced to assimilate into a small town after they lose their family fortune.

Though the show’s first season received mixed reviews, it grew in regard with both fans and critics over subsequent iterations. Schitt’s Creek’s fifth season, which premiered on January 8, 2019, scored a 100 per cent “Fresh” ranking on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.

The show is also among select company among Canadian sitcoms, drawing strong viewership in the United States and elsewhere thanks to distribution on Netflix and the American Pop network. Critics have reacted favourably to recent episodes, with TV Guide’s Megan Vick writing that each season of Schitt’s Creek has “gotten better and better.”

Read Levy’s full statement below.

New episodes of Schitt’s Creek air Tuesday nights at 9/9:30 NT on CBC.

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Watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short “Animal Behaviour”

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The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB
The National Film Board of Canada is offering Canadians the opportunity to watch the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film "Animal Behaviour" until the end of today. Photo courtesy NFB

To get prepped for the 91st Academy Awards, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is offering Canadians the chance to check out Animal Behaviour, nominated tonight in the Best Animated Short Film category.

Animal Behaviour is a new short from Alison Snowden and David Fine, who previously won an Oscar in 1994 for Bob’s Birthday. The short is the 75th Oscar nomination for the NFB, and the first short film for Snowden and Fine since Bob’s Birthday. The 91st Oscars air tonight at 8 Eastern on ABC and CTV.

Watch Animal Behaviour below (expires tonight).

Next up on The Mutt: Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp future in doubt as Season 4 delayed

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Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 11/12 - "Daddy Lessons/War Paint". Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp Season 4 is in jeopardy, according to the The Hollywood Reporter, due to financial difficulties. Photo courtesy Space

All of a sudden, Wynonna Earp is in Purgatory.

Earpers were stunned Thursday night when executive producer and showrunner Emily Andras posted (and subsequently deleted) a tweet suggesting that fans of the show may soon have to fight for it. Another tweet, posted shortly later, took a decidedly more straight-forward approach.

Andras appeared to be responding to the news that funding for the fourth season of Wynonna Earp appeared to be on shaky ground, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, financial challenges faced by IDW Entertainment have stalled production on Season 4, despite the company being contractually obligated to deliver the show to Syfy.

In response to the news, Earpers took to Twitter with the hashtag #FightForWynonna, which at the time of publication was one of the top Twitter trends in Canada. Though Season 4 has yet to be officially cancelled, IDW has yet to commit to a start date for the new season.

“IDW is committed to continuing to tell the Wynonna Earp story,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Much like the fans, we are passionate about not only the series, but the comics, the characters and the overall message that the Wynonna Earp franchise carries. We are in the process of working out the details for how the Wynonna story will continue and will share new details very soon.”

Our resident Earper, Ghezal Amiri, was a big fan of Season 3, writing that the show’s season finale, entitled “War Paint”, was a “wildly emotional conclusion.” Read her recap here.

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