Sunday, April 29, 2018

Movie Review: "The Unwilling" (2018)

Director: Jonathan Heap
Year: 2018
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

After a despised but wealthy patriarch passes away, his beneficiaries gather for a will reading to see what piece of his vast estate they will inherit. Instead of money, they are all presented with a strange box that holds what they each desire but also houses great evil. 
"I've been in hell most of my life and I've managed to survive." (Image provided courtesy of Vision Films)
If you, your family, and your friends receive a weird black box with what appears to be the head of Cthulhu sculpted on top of it that asks for a drop of blood from each person in the room, it may be best to cut your losses and walk away at that point.

"The Unwilling" is directed by Jonathan Heap. This is his first feature-length film in roughly 15 years. His last effort was the 2002 direct-to-video film "Greenmail." Heap also wrote the film along with David Lipper, who plays the story's protagonist named David Harris. The despised Harris family patriarch (Lance Henriksen) has recently passed away. The five beneficiaries of his estate are all summoned to his son David's home. David suffers from OCD and agoraphobia and has not left the house in years. Each beneficiary is expecting to get their grubby little mitts on a piece of Mr. Harris's estate even though they hated him. Instead, they are presented with a creepy black box covered in a detailed sculpture that looks like an octopus or possibly the head of Cthulhu. As they examine the object, six long needles pop out, and each person receives a text message reading "Blood of the Six" in Latin. The group rationalizes giving a drop of blood to the box which will give each of them what they desire most, though taking the object comes with a nice heaping side of demon possession.
"Oh my god, did we almost die? On the way to a will reading?" (Image provided courtesy of Vision Films)
"The Unwilling" was actually made a couple of years ago and has been running the film festival circuit in the interim. It has appeared at numerous horror movie festivals around the world. It is now set for its official U.S. release on VOD. This is a low budget supernatural horror thriller flick where reluctant hosts are possessed one by one by an evil spirit and are slowly killed off. It's a tale as old as time, so there's nothing particularly new here in terms of its story. The dialogue is a bit cheesy at times, and some of the line reading can be stiff here and there. The camerawork is both interesting and puzzling as some odd choices are made when the director is trying to convey feelings like confusion (for example, when one character is driving in a car, the camera spins like a record to communicate his frenzied attitude and mindset).
"I'm looking at you, bitch." (Image provided courtesy of Vision Films)
Despite some goofy dialogue and these strange technical choices, we actually had a pretty damn good time watching "The Unwilling." The story itself is engaging, and even in its familiarity, we liked seeing where it was going. As with many horror films, the narrative deals with underlying questions of morality. Many of the family members who are possessed first are battling serious demons of their own, like greed, vanity, lust, pride, self-destructive habits and so on. It is compelling to watch as these characters try to figure out what is going on, though the narrative is a bit repetitive at times.
"One, two, three, nothing to see." (Image provided courtesy of Vision Films)
Though "The Unwilling" has many flaws, we still wound up enjoying it for the most part. Our biggest gripe is that we could have used a little bit more Lance Henriksen.

**Vision Films is set to release Award-winning horror movie “The Unwilling” from Academy Award-nominated writer/director Jonathan Heap to DVD, Blu-ray and VOD on May 1st, 2018.**

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.2/10
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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