Friday, September 4, 2015

Movie Review #303: "Unsullied" (2014)

Ticket Price: $10.25
Director: Simeon Rice
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
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A collegiate track star named Reagan (Murray Gray) is abducted to by two wealthy redneck types who have a history of abducting, raping, and murdering  young women. She escapes into the Florida wilderness and goes on the run while the two men hunt her for sport.

When we saw "Unsullied" pop up in one of our local theaters, we were mildly excited upon reading its premise. It is the directorial debut for former football star Simeon Rice. The film takes place in present day, but has a very 70's grindhouse type of feel to it. The story is a simple tale of abduction and survival against all odds. Newcomer Murray Gray plays Reagan Farrow, a collegiate track star whose car breaks down on the way to her next competition. While awaiting AAA to come tow her car, two young men, Noah, played by Rusty Joiner, and Mason, played by James Gaudioso, offer Reagan a ride to the nearest service station. Noah is a bit of a smooth talker and convinces her it's okay. She reluctantly accepts their invitation, making the biggest mistake of her life as she is immediately drugged and taken to their secluded home. Noah and Mason make an annual trip to the area, a very rural town in Florida where they abduct and hunt and chase women for fun. Noah is very wealthy and spreads a lot of cash around the small town; this makes the two men very well liked and beyond suspicion by most. We got the sense that some of the townspeople might even directly look the other way because of the money Noah throws at them and their often floundering businesses and town in an effort to keep it afloat.

Let's talk about the acting first. Murray Gray does a decent job for her first time out as an actress, especially considering the budget of the film, in addition to being handled by a first-time director as well. She is very believable as a track star and sells her determination pretty well. Rusty Joiner is the primary antagonist, and though he spends his first and last few scenes clothed, it becomes apparent very early on much of his purpose is to show off his beefcake physique as he is often inexplicably without a shirt. James Gaudioso's character Mason seems to be even more crazy than Noah, often tormenting and teasing his victims before he does whatever it is he does with them, be it slicing, dicing, or much, much worse. He does an effective job of creeping the audience out with his gross and slimy comments. Most of the film is built around a cat and mouse chase game as Reagan runs and hides in the forest for her life after escaping Rusty and Mason's secluded murder house. These scenes can be intense and effective as they are probably the most realistic scenario found in horror films, but there are also a whole lot of these scenes, so they get tiresome and sort of long after a while. These chase scenes are broken up and juxtaposed with flashbacks, showing memories of Reagan's relationship with her sister, who had disappeared a year or two prior. These interludes break up the tension and sometimes slow the film down, but we understand they are somewhat necessary to show how close the sisters were and build up their relationship. Like most characters, our main protagonist often makes stupid mistakes as she trusts the wrong people and sometimes, foolishly, gives away her position or chooses the path of most resistance. This is cliché for horror thrillers, so we're not knocking the film for this at all.

Overall, not knowing what to expect, we like the film's low budget, grainy, grindhouse feel and enjoy some of the tension it provides. While there is a lot to like and a lot of potential here, there is also some distracting camerawork which hindered my enjoyment a bit. While some of the beginning shots provide a frenetic, agitated pace early on, after the first hour finishes, it starts to give the appearance the shakiness might not be on purpose, and can even be mildly headache inducing. There could have been a bit more excitement and a little less running, but hey, Simeon Rice might have a bright future in film making if he sticks with it! We hope to see more directors getting limited releases of their movies in theaters across the country!

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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