Violence, language in unsettling horror movie.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Unseen is a 2023 horror movie in which a convenience store clerk must help a woman escape from her murderous ex-boyfriend. It explores the story of two Asian American women who are both contending with different degrees of horrifying White privilege and entitlement. Expect violence, including scenes in which a woman is tied up, slapped, choked, and has a knife to her neck before she responds by kicking her assailant in the groin. She's then thrown onto a table and she bludgeons him with a large object until he's knocked out. Bloody wrists after twist ties are removed. A character is run over by a truck. Guns, rifles, and assault rifles. Strong language throughout, including "f--k" and "c--t." Characters talk of being bullied in high school. Joint smoking in one scene and talk of getting drunk.
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What's the Story?
In UNSEEN, Sam (Jolene Purdy) works as a convenience store clerk in the Florida Panhandle, where she is bullied by her boss and the entitled "Karens" who buy gas for their BMWs. While working another dreary shift, she gets a phone call that looks like a number she tried calling earlier. When she answers it, the person on the other end, Emily (Midori Francis), tells her that she's lost in the woods after escaping the remote Michigan cabin where her psychotic stalker ex-boyfriend Charlie (Michael Patrick Lane) had kept her tied up. With Charlie pursuing her, her glasses broken, and her phone screen shattered, Emily needs Sam to be her "eyes" as she tries to find a way back to civilization before Charlie kills her. With the video screen on, Sam tries to help Emily, but Sam has problems of her own when a crazed, entitled woman named Carol has returned for the gold credit card she left behind after a nasty interaction earlier in the day. Sam must fend off Carol while also trying to get Emily to safety.
Is It Any Good?
This is a really good, if not great, horror movie. Unseen centers on two Asian American women who connect under traumatic circumstances as they both contend in their own ways with psychotic embodiments of White entitlement and privilege. The story itself works, and the suspense runs at a fever pitch once it gets going, suspense that encompasses the absurdities of trying to fix a slushy machine while working in a convenience store and the very real horror of murderous stalker ex-boyfriends and "Karens Gone Wild."
Where the movie falls a bit short is in the secondary characters. While the two leads come across as fully developed, likable characters, the villains are so over the top, it's depressing. It's depressing because it's hard to tell whether or not the actors are hamming up their roles or if it's too real. And when the "Karen character's" husband shows up, it's clear that they're doing a parody of the infamous St. Louis couple who stood in their front yards wielding assault rifles while a Black Lives Matter protest marched by. At this point, the whole art-mirroring-reality becomes grotesque and it offsets the humanity of the two main characters. Still, it's another solid effort by Blumhouse to make horror movies centered on races and ethnicities that have historically been marginalized in horror movies.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about horror movies like Unseen. How is this similar to and different from other horror movies you've seen?
How does the movie use the horror genre to highlight the problems of White privilege and entitlement? Is it effective? Why or why not?
Was the violence necessary to tell the story or was it gratuitous? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: March 7, 2023
- Cast: Midori Francis, Jolene Purdy, Michael Patrick Lane
- Director: Yoko Okumura
- Studio: Amazon
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 76 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 10, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Violence, racial slurs in message-based horror movie.
Thoughtful horror-comedy has blood, gore, language.
Horror-thriller is surprising, shocking, timely, and funny.
For kids who love horror
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