The Unseen (1981)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This lesser-known shocker from the early 1980's is often lumped in with the slasher films of that era but it is a different beast altogether. The Unseen actually has more in common with the post-Psycho wave of shockers from the mid-1960's: the plot is driven by a creepy old house, a mysterious killer who lurks in the shadows and nasty family secrets that threaten the lives of the film's unsuspecting protagonists. The film's setup is a little creaky and romance-subplot diversions involving the heroine reek of t.v. drama but the film takes flight when the Keller family and their country home are allowed to take center stage. In terms of acting, Barbara Bach offers a solid if not terribly interesting performance as the reporter heroine but that is okay because the film really belongs to the troubled 'family' at its core. Sydney Lassick is pitiful and monstrous by turns as the family's wicked patriarch, Lelia Goldoni offers a richly expressive performance as his long-suffering wife and Stephen Furst offers a stunning, dialogue-free performance as the mysterious figure who holds the secret to the house's killings. Behind the camera, director Danny Steinmann (using the pseudonym Peter Foleg) achieves a genuinely creepy atmosphere that slowly sneaks up on the audience. More importantly, he shows a real flair for suspense setpieces, paying the film off via an intense final half-hour that works the viewer over with white-knuckle suspense. In short, The Unseen is a nice surprise for horror fans and well worth rediscovering.