The opening of The Unkind involves acts that are a lot more than just unkind. On a dark and stormy night in 1898, a witch performs a ritual before setting out to slaughter the Domintrescu family in their mansion. She manages to kill all of them except the father who impales her on a tree branch. Flash forward to 2008 and six friends including Mark (Giulio Tropea, voiced by Alejandro Chacon), Ashley (Arianna Monguzzi, voiced by Taylor Skeens) and her boyfriend Nick (Federico Papa, voiced by Chris Cade) arrive from NY to spend a couple of weeks vacation there.
Ashley is some kind of psychic and during a long phone call to her brother Eric she expresses her doubts about her relationship with Nick and her certainty that “People were butchered in there.” Her abilities can’t stop the friends from messing with a strange book they find, or with the mysterious grave it leads them to.
The Unkind is the first feature from visual effects artist (Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Conan the Barbarian) turned director Luca Gabriele Rossetti who co-wrote the script with Andrew Cohen (Art Less) and Joe Pastore (Interview With the Alien). It also seems to be the first credit for most of the cast both on-screen and voice talent, as well.
And it feels like a first film, and not in the, go into the woods and come back with The Evil Dead, tradition either. The Unkind is pieced together from things we’ve all seen before, the house is in a cellphone dead zone, ghostly children running around giggling, the one member of the group who is sensitive to psychic phenomena. It even goes as far as to have a room full of creepy mannequins for no reason other than a jump scare.
To his credit, Rossetti does a decent enough job with The Unkind’s collection of cliches, getting a lot of mileage out of the old mansion, its cellars and hidden crypt The desaturated look he uses is yet another cliche but it works to add atmosphere to many scenes, unfortunately, others are so dark I had trouble seeing what was happening. While most of The Unkind’s kills are off-screen, there are a few decent effects using better-than-expected CGI. That at least lets Rossettti deliver some nice jump scares to keep the viewer interested, or at least awake.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much that can do to ward off the effects of what feels like poorly translated dialogue such as “he wounded her to death” which has been dubbed in by inexperienced voice actors. And at an hour and forty-five minutes, The Unkind is in need of some editing. Cutting out much of the unneeded dialogue from the film’s first half would have made a big improvement.
Even if The Unkind had overcome its problems, it manages to go out with three endings, one of which I can only imagine was included to give the audience a good look at Ashley in the shower. Unfortunately, two of them are overused and far from effective. The last one is an obvious setup for a sequel. Given how much it differs from the film’s production synopsis it also seems to be the result of last-minute tinkering to improve what was shot.
The Unkind is available on VOD platforms from Wild Eye Releasing. The film’s website, while using a Blair Witch Project style help find these missing persons theme at least shows more effort than most film websites do these days. If only the film could say the same.