Friday, April 16, 2021

Unseen Evil

Unseen Evil (aka The Unbelievable)
Jay Woelfel

A college professor and small group hire a native guide to help locate an ancient burial ground. It turns out they have actually come to rob the place blind of its extraordinary treasures. Something monstrous and unseen awakens when they do.

Unseen Evil is the kind of shelf filler that you might expect to have found at your local rental place. It contains that most of cost saving of monsters, the invisible kind. Since this was 1999, Unseen Evil features some very primitive (and also cost saving) CGI. So, right at the start Unseen Evil looks like it is going to be another dated and dull bit of rental fodder. It turns out it is very dated looking, but it also manages to be entertaining despite itself. Go into it with some lowered expectations and you might be pleasantly surprised.

"Ooh a wheat penny!"

Unseen Evil pulls in a surprisingly strong cast and the uses them in unusual ways. It has b-move stalwarts Tim Thomerson as a horny park ranger and Richard Hatch as the head of the nefarious expedition to steal native artifacts. We also get Cindy Pena as the native and local guide, Dana, along with Mike (Frank Ruotolo), and Williams (Jere Jon).  Everyone does a decent job with what they are given, and in what I feel like is influenced by the popularity of Tarantino films around this time, our gang of would-be tomb raiders are more than happy to pull pistols on each other in a constantly twisting series of allegiances.

If Unseen Evil has one thing going for it, is a level of unpredictability in who is going to get killed and when. The standard format for most monster films is to have the cast picked off one at a time and it usually is not so difficult to figure out who is going to die and in what order. Unseen Evil manages to buck this order just a little, but it is enough to give the story a little more spark than it would have otherwise. It isn’t much but by the standards of VHS fare from this era, I will take what I can get.

"Ooh a wheat penny!"

The mostly invisible monster of Unseen Evil is exactly what you’re going to expect. It is a stiffly animated CGI creature. You never really get a clear sense of what it looks like or how big it is. Most of the time it is invisible and when it does make an appearance it is a transparent mess of textures. If you’re here for any kind of satisfying creature action, I would definitely look somewhere else. The creature does come with a mildly interesting background involving a Native American tribe and flying saucers. 

Unseen Evil isn’t a great film by any standards, but it does manage to rise (very) slightly above the rest. If you have a taste for ephemeral movies that will relegated to the dark corners where obsessives lurk (Hi, there.) maybe give it at try.


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