The Unforgiving Movie Review
Written by TGM
DVD released by 4Digital Media
Written and directed by Alastair Orr
2010, 73 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on March 28th, 2011
Ryan Macquet as Rex Dobson
Claire Opperman as Alice Edmonds
Michael Thompson. as Detective Hirsch
Craig Hawks as Vincent Edmonds
The Unforgiving is the tale of two seemingly unrelated survivors of a sadistic gas-mask wearing psychopath who preys on those unfortunate enough to experience car trouble in one of the more desolate freeways in South Africa. This setting is a fitting one considering upwards of fifty people are murdered in South Africa on a DAILY basis. So, yeah, scratch "visit South Africa" off of my bucket list thankyouverymuch.
The overall premise has a bit of a "been there, done that" feel to it, given the myriad of "torture porn" flicks that have come before it. However, there exists an intimacy to The Unforgiving lacking in the Saw and Hostel franchises that help maintain significant interest in these characters and their particular plight. And while there are certainly scenes of torture and rape, don't expect buckets of blood and gore to the extent found in those previously aforementioned Hollywood horror movies.
Writer/director Alastair Orr certainly makes the most out of what he has to work with, both in terms of budget and talent. The overall look of The Unforgiving is refreshingly bright, yet gritty, with a harsh bleached out appearance that fits the locale perfectly. This is in stark contrast to many other films of the same genre (especially low budget ones) that try and compensate for shortcomings in set design and special effects by hiding the action in darkness and muddled gloom. Speaking of which, Orr does seem to flounder some when filming fight scenes. His preference for zooming in so close to the action is akin to watching an amphetamine fueled shark attack through a high powered telescope while standing six feet away (that's roughly two meters for you Brits). It's all a frenzied blur of flailing and screaming that drastically lessens the impact. I get the sense that Orr is talented enough to handle these scenes differently, and have no doubt (given time and experience) that he will soon develop the confidence to pull back the camera and let the action unfold in a way that is much more enjoyable for the audience.
The acting from the two main leads is slightly under-whelming, which is especially problematic when the entire cast consists of only four people. Ryan Macquet, as the baby-faced male survivor, comes across more smarmy than sympathetic while Clair Opperman, as the surviving female, seems more disinterested than traumatized. Of course I've never been (unwillingly) bound, gagged, raped, and tortured, so perhaps their delivery is appropriate in a PTSD sort of way, but that's the purview of psychologists not movie reviewers. Michael Thompson gives the most even performance as the detective attempting to get to the bottom of things.
Usually I wouldn't comment on a musical soundtrack because they all tend to be rather generic and forgettable in low-budget films. The Unforgiving's score, however, is predominantly an atmospheric affair full of creepy tones and a haunting minimalist plinky-plunky piano accompaniment that enhances the onscreen visual offerings perfectly.
While some might criticize The Unforgiving's brief runtime, I applaud the decision to keep things short and sweet. At an economical 73 minutes, there isn't room for much fluff and the story moves along at a refreshingly brisk pace. Too many times low-budget indie filmmakers feel it necessary to bloat the proceedings with extraneous filler that does nothing but bog down the central plot. Thankfully Orr adheres to the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple Stupid!
There are a couple of plot twists towards the end of The Unforgiving, one that works and one that simply doesn't. Without giving too much away, the twist that fails does so due to lack of any real explanation behind why one particular character does what they do. Was that ambiguous enough for you? At any rate, if they stuck with just the first plot twist then the ending would have worked better. Despite these shortcomings, The Unforgiving is a tight thriller from a talented director and I eagerly look forward to Alastair Orr's next project.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.